INVESTIGATES: School threats at DCPS on track to surpass last year’s total

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Families are still concerned over the recent school threats and lockdowns at Duval County Public Schools; so far, there have been over 200 different types of threats this year.

In the last two weeks, Westside High School went on lockdown twice and Landmark Middle School had enhanced security over threats.

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There are roughly five months left in the school year, and so far, the total amount of threats made to DCPS schools is on pace to be more than all last year.

“He feels safe when he’s with me and I just want him to feel safe wherever he goes,” Chryl Anderson said.

A public records request Action News Jax got showed there have been 187 transient threats and 69 substantive threats at DCPS so far this year through October.

Transient threats are described as ones that are made through emotions such as anger or frustration but can be taken back through an explanation or apology, saying there’s no intent to harm anyone.

Substantive is more serious: Such threats can’t be resolved as easily and can be threats to hit or fight, or sometimes involve more serious intent like threats to kill, rape or seriously hurt someone with a weapon.

Chryl Anderson has a grandson at Landmark Middle School and said he stayed home after a threat was made at the school last week.

“How can a child concentrate on schoolwork when they are hearing there is someone there who is going to harm them,” Anderson said.

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Our request asked for the latest numbers, but DCPS was unable to include any threats from November or the first two weeks of December, saying the full report won’t be available until fall 2022. With what we were given, the current number of threats show the district is on pace to surpass last year’s total.

We learned there were 259 transient and 127 substantive threats through all last school year. Less than halfway through this school year, with nearly 70 of those more serious threats, DCPS is on track to eclipse last year’s total for the school.

Anderson said even if it’s just a threat, she worries about the aftermath.

“Threats have to be addressed but we also have to take more consideration into the mental and traumatic health of our children,” she said.

Action News Jax also learned one student has been arrested and charged for making a false report about a written threat to conduct a mass shooting.

As for Anderson, she wants the district to be more transparent with how threats are handled.

“We need to be proactive and get involved ahead of time and talk about this as a community,” she said.

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Action News Jax asked the district for their specific policies when it comes to threats, how they are handled, and what the specific chain of command looks like. They said the chief of police would be able to answer all our questions in an interview sometime this week but provided the following statement in the meantime.

“We take all threats and the safety of our students and staff very seriously. When we become aware of a threat to a school or rumor of a threat, we notify families and share with them the security measures that are being taken in response.”