Mandarin High students waited hours in sun after bomb threat, parents say

At least 1 student hospitalized, DCPS says

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter, Destiny McKeiver - Multi-media journalist

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Some parents of Mandarin High School students are frustrated after they said their children were forced onto the football field for a majority of the day due to a bomb threat posted on social media.

Officials became aware of the threat about 11 p.m. Wednesday, and a robocall from the school's principal alerted parents. The Duval County School district posted on its website:

A bomb threat specific to Mandarin High School was received earlier. Working with law enforcement partners, it was determined that the school was safe to open this morning.

Nothing dangerous was located, officials said.

Students were released 20 minutes before the school's normal dismissal time. Parents told News4Jax they were on the field in the bleachers for about five hours.

One mother sent us a photo. She said her son was sunburned from standing on the field.

Sky4 flew over the stadium and captured video of someone being put on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance. A spokesperson for the Duval County School District confirmed at least one person was hospitalized.

In a call to parents, Superintendent Diana Greene apologized on behalf of the School District.

Hello parents of Mandarin High School. This is School Superintendent Diana Greene.

I wanted to call and acknowledge that today was a stressful day for all in the Mandarin High School community, and I want to apologize to you and to your children that things did not go as smoothly as we would have preferred them to go. 

In such situations, it is often difficult to anticipate how events will unfold. 

We have already conducted a debriefing with staff, and we realize there were key places throughout the situation where we should have done better.

I do want to commend the teachers, students and school administration at the school. Under very difficult circumstances, they were truly amazing.

While today was not our best day as a school district, we will use what we learned to be better in the future. 

Thank you again for the way that you and your students handled all of this, and we look forward hopefully to a normal school day tomorrow.

Up the road, parents waited nervously for their children outside a nearby church. Moms and dads were concerned and had mixed emotions on the way things were handled.

"I've heard a bunch of nonsense," said Vance Tubman, a father of two seniors. "A lot of, 'We don't know, please be patient,' that's about it."

Chris Terry, whose daughter is a sophomore at Mandarin High, said he felt school administrators did their job properly.

"I'm pretty sure she (Terry's daughter) would have informed me of any issue if she was feeling uncomfortable," Terry said.

Reminiscent of the photo above, Mark Fontaine said his son was also sunburned while sitting on the field.

"Their plan that they had to try to keep the children safe actually put them in danger in more ways than one," Fontaine said.

Many students told News4Jax they thought school administrators did the best they could, however, there were mixed stories on food and water. Some said they had both, others said they ran out. That was not immediately confirmed.

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