School threats leave Seminole County on edge


photo by Josephine Lim

School threats have seen an increase in recent years, including Seminole County. Administration urges students to understand that these threats are not a joke and have harsh disciplinary consequences.

School threats have seen a 60% increase nationwide since 2021, 6,000 which were reported to the FBI. This trend was recently seen in Lake Mary after they had an investigation of a school threat that was posted on social media. The threat was traced back to a student in South Florida, who was arrested, and the threat was discredited soon after.

Seminole County Public School’s board members, Sheriff office and superintendent Serita Beamon acknowledged these recent events with a video address explaining the situation and the grave consequences students could face. 

“It is important for our students to understand that these decisions can be life altering. We take all potential threats seriously, including reckless behavior that puts others at risk,” Beamon said. “These consequences can range from disciplinary consequences to student arrest.”

At Hagerty, there are extensive investigations put in place to determine whether the threats should be taken seriously or disregarded as a hoax. The increase of threats in the school alone has left many administrators, including principal Robert Frasca, exhausted from its persistence.

I always fear that the one time we don’t take it seriously is going to be the time that it is and that is frustrating,” Frasca said. “As a principal who’s responsible for a large campus safety, there are so many things I’d rather be doing than worrying about the [threats].”

Most investigations start from a reported school threat that was posted into social media, written or told to other students. Depending on the source, investigations can take different times to be resolved, but in all cases students are caught.

“The biggest message I would put out to kids who would even think it might be funny to put something on social media or to write something is that we always catch them and punish them,” Frasca said. “They will not be students here anymore because we are not going to allow that type of behavior to interrupt the learning and safety for 2,500 kids on this campus.”

Although many situations end up discredited and dealt with swiftly after the initial report, students’ uneasiness become prevalent when other false alarms spread around Seminole County. After a shooting threat was written in the girls’ bathroom earlier this year, the school has increased its security measures around campus. From positioning administration around crowded areas during lunch hours to checking in bathrooms for any misconduct, safety systems have been set in place to accommodate for potential threats. A specific system that was put in place was QR codes that administration uses to fill out routine bathroom checks around campus, with time stamps and reports of any activity. This system allows for administration to have a set timeline in case of any potential threats in the bathroom and facilitates in locating the one responsible. Some methods however aren’t fully disclosed to students to maximize safety measures.

“It’s up to all of us to keep this campus safe. That is why we often talk about when you see something, say something,” Frasca said, “[Students] know that they are our best source of information and help us keep our campus safe.”