Creekside administrators dispel fears over rumored threat

Jacksonville-area schools on alert amid unfounded threats

By Erik Avanier - Reporter, Heather Biltoc - Producer, Ashley Harding - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Creekside High School Principal Steve McCormick reached out to parents Wednesday to assuage concerns over rumors of a potential threat to the school that authorities say have no merit.

McCormick said St. Johns County sheriff's deputies determined the supposed threat was not credible after investigating the matter and speaking with the parties involved.

RELATED: What to do if you see a threat on social media

"I want to take this opportunity to let our students and parents know that we have worked diligently in conjunction with law enforcement investigating this rumor. There is no threat to our school and we are operating under normal conditions," McCormick wrote in an email to parents.

Paul Abbatinozzi, director of school services for the district, told News4Jax that administrators expect students to show up for school Thursday. But he acknowledged that some parents may be reluctant.

"Families are going to make their decision and we certainly understand that," he said.

Nevertheless, Abbatinozzi encouraged students to come forward when they see something suspicious.

"I think it’s important to continue the open lines of communication with their teachers, with the administration, with the guidance counselors," he said. "If students see something or hear something and there is a level of discomfort with the information that they have, there are resources at the school that they can certainly get to."

Parents and students leaving a track meet at Nease High School Thursday night, which is about 15 minutes away from Creekside High School, spoke out about the rash of online threats to various schools around Florida and around the country. 

"It's really sad," high school student Kate Dundore said. "I don't think anyone should be afraid to go to school."

So far, many of the school threats across the country have already been investigated and have turned out to be pranks. But concerned parents are not laughing. 

“It’s not a joke and I don’t think normal people prank something so serious and so life-shattering as a school shooting," parent Deborah Dundore said. 

RELATED: Duval County schools want to increase budget for school security

Viewers contacted News4Jax on Wednesday with reports of posts on social media warning of violence at schools across the area, from Oakleaf High School in Clay County to West Nassau High in Nassau County.

The Duval County school district alerted police to the series of threats, which they determined were not credible, according to a statement provided by a district spokesperson. 

According to Clay County school officials, Superintendent Addison Davis plans to address social media threats and school safety during a Thursday morning news conference. Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels will hold a separate news conference Thursday afternoon to address the online threats. 

WATCH: Clay County to hold new conferences Thursday

Several parents in Clay County have called the newsroom to say they're keeping their children home on Thursday. Bus drivers have also reported seeing fewer students at bus-stops Thursday morning.

Sources told News4Jax that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the threats and sharing information with local agencies. 

Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.