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I-TEAM: More than 300 threats investigated in last 2 school years

Records show 255 threats to Duval County schools last year, 40 this year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of school threats made in Northeast Florida have been investigated over the last two school years, the News4Jax I-TEAM found.

With more than a dozen threats made toward individual schools in one school year, it's alarming for parents, students and district officials, who said they approach each threat like it's real. 

Duval County Public Schools has created a public service announcement for students to warn them of the consequences of threatening schools. 

"Let me be clear. If you make a threat against any of our schools or others, the district will respond with the highest possible levels of consequences," DCPS Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene says in the video. "Arrests, criminal charges, expulsion, or assignment to an alternative school. If all of this gets your attention – it should.

The PSA rollout comes after hundreds of school threats in the last two school years.

WATCH: Consequences for Making School Threats PSA

All Duval County public high school students have had to watch the video, which details expulsion, alternative school and criminal charges as consequences for making threats. DCPS Regional High School Superintendent Scott Schneider said middle school students will be watching it next. 

"We have children. Our business is children and we know, unfortunately, children make poor decisions," Schneider said. "We want to prevent them from making poor decisions that will impact your life."

According to school records, there were at least 255 threats last year to Duval County schools. Twenty threats were assessed at Lake Shore Middle School, along with 19 at Ed White High School and 13 at Landmark Middle School.

So far this school year, DCPS has assessed more than 40 threats made to schools. 

"I think anytime a student feels the need to make a threat to anyone's life and wellbeing, it's alarming," Schneider said. "So, I think one is too many."

DCPS hopes the video serves as a warning and a wake-up call to students. 

 "A poor decision can affect their life for a very long time, and we are trying to prevent that," Schneider said.

He recounted the feeling when there was a threat at his own school. 

"I was a high school principal for eight years and admin for 13, and I can tell you, honestly, I remember every single threat," Schneider said. "One situation that comes to mind is a situation where we thought we might have an active shooter."

The I-TEAM found the St. Johns and Clay County school districts have also investigated numerous threats over the last two school years. 

So far this school year, Clay County District Schools has investigated eight school threats. The St. Johns County School District has investigated one, but it investigated 14 last year. 

WATCH: I-TEAM breaks down number of schools threats by district

Schools across the county have plans for reacting to and investigating threats, but getting the threats to stop is a bigger challenge. 

Schneider's message to students contemplating threatening a school is to seek guidance.

"I would definitely tell them, please find someone in that building they can relate to -- that they have a relationship with --  and go speak to that person," he said. 

Schneider also told the I-TEAM that more often than not, parents have no idea what their child is contemplating. He asked parents to know what apps are on their children's electronics and speak with them about how they are feeling.

Breakdown of Duval County school threats


About the Author:

Kelly Wiley

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.