Orange County Public Schools superintendent calls for end to prank threat trend

Dr. Maria Vasquez records message to OCPS parents

A written message containing a possible threat to West Orange High School has put the school on “hold” while law enforcement investigates, according to Orange County Public Schools.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Parents of students in the Orange County Public Schools district on Tuesday heard from superintendent Dr. Maria Vasquez, who left them a message marking an increase in prank threats against students and schools.

“Some students may think of this as a prank, but this is not a joke and it’s taken very seriously. It doesn’t matter if they say it, text it, write it, snap it or post it on social media, students who make threats can face serious consequences according to our Code of Student Conduct and through law enforcement. Nobody wants a police visit to their house over a foolish prank. It’s a waste of precious resources and undue stress on students and staff,” Vasquez said in the audio message.

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Listen to the message in the audio player below.

Vazquez’s message comes two days after an announcement by Daytona police that a recent shooting scare at Mainland High School was believed to be the work of “pranksters” who worked together to elicit a panicked crowd from the school’s cafeteria.

On Thursday, West Orange High School received its second threat in two days, prompting a hold at the school until the written message was investigated and an all-clear was given.

In Seminole County, a 14-year-old boy was recently arrested over a threat posted to social media against Lyman High School. Officials said Monday the teen is not a Lyman student, and the threat he made was not credible.

Children’s psychologist Dr. Gregory Jantz told News 6 that recent school-threat scares in Central Florida may have a negative impact on youth’s mental health.

A student could still be traumatized by a scare regardless if they were in any danger, and Jantz said it’s important to look at it from their vantage point.

“One of the things that kids need from us right now, perhaps more than ever, is we need to be able to listen to them and let them share whatever it is they are experiencing,” Jantz said.

A children’s psychologist told News 6 that recent school-threat scares in Central Florida may have a negative impact on youth’s mental health.

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About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.