JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A student was taken into custody Friday after allegedly making a social media threat aimed at Atlantic Coast High School, according to the principal.
On Friday morning, Dr. Michael George, principal of Atlantic Coach High, sent to students’ families a message, which News4JAX obtained, saying school officials were informed of a social media post from a student threatening a shooting at the school. The message states that police identified the student accused of making the threat and that the student was apprehended.
News4JAX spoke briefly to the principal, who said that the threat was “unfounded,” but the student accused of making the social media was being arrested. Later, another message was sent out to all families of Duval County Public Schools students, confirming that school police arrested the student within three hours of becoming aware of the post.
As of now, it’s unclear exactly what the social media post said.
“It is not something that is unusual. It was a threat to shoot the school. We anticipate these at any given time,” Duval County School Police Department Chief Greg Burton told News4JAX.
As a precaution, according to the principal, Atlantic Coast High operated on a code yellow status in the morning. It has since been lifted, with the principal writing a second message to Atlantic Coast High students’ families to notify them that school operations had returned to normal.
According to the principal, additional police, administrators and security were on campus, and video captured Duval County school police arriving on the scene in the morning.
One parent, who did not want to be identified, talked to News4JAX by phone, saying her daughter was texting her during the entire ordeal.
“I was freaking out. I was wanting to make sure my daughter was OK. I know school shootings can be very serious,” the parent said. “I was sitting here, waiting to hear from someone from the school, letting me know what is going on just to make sure she was OK, and she keep texting me through the whole situation, letting me know what was going on.”
Parents of Atlantic Coach High students were told that they were welcome to pick up their children and that absences would be excused. News4JAX spoke on and off camera with several parents who were very concerned and decided to not take chances so they drove to the school to get their children.
The message sent to all families of DCPS students states that the school district decided to inform them of Friday’s arrest for two reasons:
“1. We will always take these situations very seriously and never dismiss a threat as a prank, a joke, or a momentary lapse in judgment. If a threat violates the law, we will seek to find and arrest the person responsible.
“2. If you allow your children to engage in any kind of social media, we ask that you share this with them. We take no pleasure in seeing any child arrested, but we will take every step we can to ensure all children are safe and feel safe in our schools. Please coach your children on appropriate and inappropriate behavior on social media.”
That message goes on to urge students, parents, and community members to report threatening activity to law enforcement by calling authorities directly or by using the Fortify Florida app.
Burton said they monitor two security apps, including Fortify Florida, which is on every school computer. Parents, students and teachers can use the app to report suspicious activity.
According to DCPS, there were 46 threats to harm schools in 2020-21, and 109 in 2021-22.