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Message from Superintendent Carlee Simon 9/30/21
A message from Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon:
“Alachua County Public School families:
I have very good news to share. We’ve just learned that two students have been arrested for making bomb threats against Newberry High School and Oak View Middle School. They've been charged with felonies. Arrests of others involved are likely. I appreciate the great work done by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office to identify these students.
Earlier today I met with representatives from ASO, other local law enforcement agencies and the State Attorney’s Office to discuss the recent threats to our schools. I can’t share details because that may jeopardize their ongoing investigations. But I can tell you that everyone is taking the threats very, very seriously.
I’m confident law enforcement will also be able to identify those responsible for the threats at Gainesville and Eastside high schools. When they do, the penalties are likely to be severe.
Just today we learned that the student who made the threats at Buchholz High a few weeks ago will be charged as an adult. He’s been charged with a felony and is facing 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, plus restitution to law enforcement and the school district for their costs. He’s also facing expulsion from school, as do all students who make threats against a school.
Over the next few days, school administrators and school resource officers/deputies will be talking to students at all our middle and high schools about the threats and the very serious and possibly life-long consequences for those who make them. Getting into college will be much harder. There are a lot of careers that will be closed off to them—in fact, it will be tougher to get any job. Chances are they won’t be able to get into the military. Having something like this on their record will haunt them for a very long time.
We’ll also be appealing to students to talk to each other about this issue. We believe those conversations are critical to preventing future threats.
As I shared in my email yesterday, threats are not a joke. They take law enforcement away from other critical duties. They create a lot of anxiety. They cause major headaches for neighbors and local businesses.
They’re also affecting time in school, which is a big problem. If we lose too much instructional time, we’ll have to make it up in some other way. That could mean losing part of Spring Break, Winter Holidays or some other holiday. None of us want that to happen.
We'll be reminding students that if they hear about a potential threat or have information about one that’s already been made, they need to report it to an adult right away. That could be a parent, a teacher, or an SRO. They can even call Crime Stoppers at (352) 372-STOP. It’s an anonymous tip line that will pay up to $1000 for information that leads to an arrest.
We’d appreciate it very much if you would reinforce these messages at home. I’ll certainly be doing that with my own children. Our goal is to prevent any other student from making a life-changing mistake.
As always, thank you for your support of our efforts to keep our campuses safe!”