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Fake Gun. Real Fear. Small Consequence: A Mother’s Outrage at Flagler Schools’ Response

| May 1, 2012

They call it air-soft.

On Tuesday evening, Gloria Kollosch, waving the image of a gun, appeared before the Flagler County School Board to describe the incident related below–the pulling of a gun, which turned out to be fake, on her son and his friend, near Matanzas High School, by another student at the school–and share her outrage at the minimal consequence. “No one is taking this lightly, and we are working through steps of what we are going to do to let students know the seriousness of this,” Superintendent Janet Valentine told Kollosch this evening.

By Gloria Kollosch

“It was only a joke.” “I didn’t think that they were serious.” “I never thought they would do it.” Sounds familiar? These are some of the statements made by friends after school shootings. The bottom line is: no one takes it seriously.  This parent is trying to take it seriously. It seems like no one else does.

On March 2, my son and a friend had just left Matanzas High School to go home on their bikes.  They had an encounter with some fellow students on Forest Grove Drive within sight of the school where one boy thought a vehicle had passed too close, blowing a horn as the vehicle passed.  This boy was upset by the encounter. He gave the carload of students a universal sign of displeasure.

What happened next is very troubling. The car continued on to Palm Harbor Parkway and turned down another road, near a school bus stop, and waited for the boys to approach. As they got closer, a gun was pointed out of the car window and pointed at one of the two boys. Both boys saw the gun.

Do I have your attention?  It got the boys’ attention, who thought they were going to be shot at, and it got mine.  I was away for training when this incident took place and my son was staying with the other boy’s family.  I heard about it that Sunday night when I returned home.

After being told what had happened I was informed by the other family that the Sheriff’s Office said that only I could place charges against the youths who were involved.

Gloria Kollosch

It should be noted that the deputy that Saturday notified the parents where my son was staying that police had retrieved the gun from the driver of the car. It turned out to be an air-soft gun. But the boys did not know this. Their fear was real. They thought the gun was real. (The Sheriff’s Office initially left the school out of it until I described the time of day and where the incident happened. The Sheriff’s Office then agreed to notify the school.)

The next day I was at Matanzas before school started and spoke to the principal, the dean, and the school resource officer.  The boys told their stories. School officials were left to investigate.  I will say that the school accomplished more in one hour than the Sheriff’s Office accomplished in three days.  The school had confessions and knew who was involved.  We were assured that action would be taken, such as suspension and removal from the school. I signed the charging paperwork for those involved.

I finally heard back from the Sheriff’s shift involved six days after the initial incident. I was told the boys involved with the gun were only charged with a misdemeanor (Florida Statue 790.10 Improper exhibition of dangerous weapons or firearms).  Because the young men involved were only being charged with a misdemeanor, I was informed by the school that the young men were both going to be reinstated to the school immediately.

The list of prohibited items on page 24 of the school district's Code of Conduct. Click on the image for larger view.

I was stunned. The school board seems to have a selective policy. The 2011-2012 Code of Student Conduct states that “The Florida Board of Education has established a Zero Tolerance Policy on school violence, crime, and the use of weapons as a part of a comprehensive approach to reducing school violence.” Further on the policy addresses “Firearms/Weapons in Vehicles on School Property,” stating: “It is the policy of the School District of Flagler County Florida, that any student shall not bring any firearm or weapon, including replicas, onto school property.” (Emphasis added.)

The driver of the car admitted that the gun was in his car on school property and that the incident took place immediately following school at a bus stop, with not enough time to go to another home to retrieve it. The list of prohibited items on page 24 of the Code of Conduct begins with “Air-Soft Guns,” and notes at the top of the list: “Possession of these items may result in suspension, alternative placement, expulsion, and/or criminal charges being filed.”


Audio: Gloria Kollosch Addresses the School Board
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The Code of Conduct makes it just as clear in the glossary’s definition of assault: “An intentional threat by word or act to do violence to another person, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, or doing some act that creates a well-founded fear in another person that such violence is imminent without subjecting him or her to physical attack.” (Emphasis added.)

I want to know: if a school system has a zero-tolerance policy, then why is this incident being tolerated? I called the school board to request to be put on the agenda to bring up these issues and I received a call back from Ms. Townsend, Director of Student Services, in which she tried to explain to me how the district reached its decision. One thing she said was that it was a joke. Sounds familiar? A joke to whom? Not to me. Not to my son or his friend or his family. Who decided it was a joke? The boys who were involved in the pointing of the gun? She then corrected herself to say that there was no intent to harm. Who decided this? When you have a gun pointed at you and the fear is real, the intent is real. Then she said it was “only a teenager prank.” Prank? Sorry, but no. A prank is something like toilet-papering a lawn, not pointing a gun at another person.

I went on to explain that my son could’ve been seriously injured if he had veered into traffic thinking he was dodging a bullet. Remember: he thought the gun was real. Even as it wasn’t, he could, because of his fear, have been struck by a very real car on Palm Harbor Parkway. Worse yet: what if there had been an off-duty law enforcement officer or a person with a concealed weapons permit there, and that weapon had been pulled? What you would have then is a dead boy. They don’t need to ask how old you are, whether the gun is loaded or whether it’s real.  What you have is a situation where no one is taking it seriously except for me and the parents of the boy who had the gun pointed at them.

Why isn’t the school system taking this seriously? Why do they dismiss it as nothing but a joke? Dismissing these types of jokes has left many an innocent student dead.

I was never allowed to be put on the agenda instead I was told I can have 3 minutes to bring it up during the Public time.  Maybe then I might get some answers but then again they might think it all a joke.

Gloria Kollosch, a Palm Coast parent, is an NRA certified Rifle, Shotgun, Pistol, and Home Safety Instructor, and an NRA certified Range Safety officer.

Flagler County Schools: Code of Conduct

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72 Responses for “Fake Gun. Real Fear. Small Consequence: A Mother’s Outrage at Flagler Schools’ Response”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Why does every thing half to be the FCSB fault ? kids get into a lot of things on their home , things like breaking and entering or just plain out stealing things, is this the school boards fault? I Think not ! charges have been filed against the boy but still yet so many peoople on this board are seeking blood from every direction they can come up with, there is a lot more to this story than has not been written by the mother on here, fact is the boys did know each other and boys will be boys as we all now. this sounds more like a law suit n the makings more than any thing else to me.
    as to the person that spit at the guy on the bike I would say you were Very lucky he did not have a real gun .

       5 likes

    • Gloria Kollosch says:

      @Anonymous, Like I said in another post the boys did not “know” each other in the aspect that they were friends at one time, they didn’t have the same circle of friends, they didn’t hang out together, each lunch together, hang out, play sports together. They could ID them but they have no interaction with them. How many people did you “know” in school but did not have an association with? Boys will be boys? Really? Sorry but when it comes to gun safety there is a line and the other boys crossed it. It was done to instill fear and terror. This was not a spur of the moment action. They laid in wait to re-encounter the boys. I have taken the stand because of the real possiblity that someone could’ve lost their life.

      And to your response to the comment about the guy on the bike…..why, as a society, do we feel it is okay to counter one action with a more severe one?

      There is more to the story, I didn’t go into how there was also a 3rd encounter that took place with my son that day after the gun was pulled (I didn’t bring up the 3rd encounter to the school board because it had taken place after the police responded and well after school had finished for the day) and I didn’t go into how I spoke to a parent of each boy. How the mother of one showed up at my door after going to the other boy’s home, how the father of the other boy blames me and also the school resource officer.

         2 likes

      • Kay says:

        Ms. Gloria, again, the incident DID NOT happen on school property. As for the toy gun being in the vehicle, perhaps the school needs to hire someone to search the students vehicles as they arrive to school, metal detecters in all doorways, when does it end. its bad enough that a young woman, who was to be the validictorian of her class, left a steak knife on her car seat while moving, and a nosy, excuse me, a industrious security person saw it, reported it and she was expelled.

        I am not exactly sure what you want done, perhaps a public flogging? Jail time with hardened criminals?

        I know the parents, they expect the boys to be punished, they were horrified that they did something stupid. What they didn’t expect was you making a public spectical out of this incident.

        I guess most people don’t recall some of the stupid decisions they made when they were young, looking back later in life thinking, glad they were not caught or God forbid my child does something like that. It’s not boys will be boys, it’s children will be children. We as parents show our children the path on life to take, but can’t always be there when they choose.

        Your concern for your child is commendable, but the other parents are just as concerned as you, if not more so, while the incident is over for your son, thanks to you it is only beginning for the other boys.

        Oh and great job of publicly harassing the schoolboard members, not sure this is a great example of parenting skills.

           7 likes

        • Gloria Kollosch says:

          Kay,
          First not everything has to take place on school property. The school will remove a student if they are charged with a felony for any action off school property.
          What you don’t understand if that FCSO agreed it involved the school and the school initially said it involved them. It was only after that the charge was found out to be a misdemeanor that the school backed off from involvement. I also hope that you never have to experience the terror that they went through from having a “toy” pointed at you. What you don’t understand is there are many airsoft guns that look like the real thing. Every year it seems like someone is shot when displaying these “toys”, so don’t try to minimize it.

          I went after the school board because of the flaws in the code of conduct, the comments made by a representative of the district and most of all for not informing the teachers about the incident. The teachers would have been on the lookout for any retaliation. As to the parents…..only the parent of the driver showed any concern about what happened and only her son apologized to my and my son, which is why I went to the DA to support a diversion program for her son, the father of the pointer was another story. No apology only accusations about how I or the school resource officer was at fault. No acknowledgement of wrong doing whatsoever about his son’s actions. He even asked me what HE needed to do to make this go away. I told him that because I teach gun safety and it involved a gun and was used to scare them that I wasn’t inclined to forget it nor drop it.

          You’re welcome….you see one of the things I tried to explain to both parents was in the case of school shootings was that someone always knew in advance and did nothing. I told them that if I ignored their actions this time and awhile down the road one or both did something along the same lines and didn’t have the same outcome than I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror knowing that I could’ve done something then to make them wake up about their actions.

          I do not agree with the comment about children being children…..both were less than 2 yrs from being legal adults. We say that they have the maturity to operate a vehicle on their own then they should also be able to accept responsiblity for their actions.

          As for my parenting skills—I believe, and from the support I received from others supporting me, have shown the proper parenting skills. I did not hide my head in the sand, I stood up for what I believed to be right and in the process showed my son the proper way to have their voice heard.

             2 likes

  2. B.Claire says:

    GoodFella,
    RE: That is whats wrong with this young generation, they have no discipline because the state has taken away a parent ability to use a little tender love.

    A little TENDER LOVE, eh?

    The fact that IN FLORIDA you can BEAT YOUR CHILD …. and your ONLY RESTRICTION IS that you don’t beat them to the point where you inflict:

    a. Sprains, dislocations, or cartilage damage.

    b. Bone or skull fractures.

    c. Brain or spinal cord damage.

    d. Intracranial hemorrhage or injury to other internal organs.

    e. Asphyxiation, suffocation, or drowning.

    f. Injury resulting from the use of a deadly weapon.

    g. Burns or scalding.

    h. Cuts, lacerations, punctures, or bites.

    i. Permanent or temporary disfigurement.

    j. Permanent or temporary loss or impairment of a body part or function.

    k. Significant bruises or welts.

    “Willful” refers to the intent to perform an action, not to achieve a particular result or an intent to cause an injury.

    Any state that has citizens that need this kind of GUIDANCE [?] is screwed up beyond all normal, intelligent, civilized awareness. Once again it’s a state that has not participated in normal life since about 1950.

       1 likes

  3. Anonymous says:

    Its not the schools place in this incedent to take action. it is the FCSO place to take action eithe by placeing the kid under arest or maybe just a visit to their homes would be enough. Also lets not go to all the what ifs maybes lets deal in just what did happen

       6 likes

    • flaglermomofone says:

      I completely agree with you on this! This didn’t happen at school or on school property so why is the mother blaming the school for not disciplining the teens that pulled the fake gun? If I understand correctly, FCSO is charging the students. Yes, I agree that this could have ended up much much worse than what it did but you can’t blame MHS or FCPS for not taking the action you want them to… it didn’t happen on school property. In my opinion, the school district did MORE by even investigating the incident.

      It seems lately that parents are pushing blame on school districts for things that PARENTS should be doing. PARENTS need to start raising their children properly and stop trying to pin the blame on everyone but themselves.

         6 likes

  4. C says:

    “Boys will be boys” is a statement that accepts and condones the behavior. Without taking action and enforcing consequence you have lost all authority.

    How safe will students feel, when they are sitting next to them in class in a few days? What is a high school kid doing with a “toy” anyways and why are these “toys” able to be marketed and sold to children? If they feel a need to have this now, is this an indication they will have or want a real one in the future?

    WHO at the school wants to accept responsibility for the next REAL incident?

    “I thought they were joking.”

       2 likes

  5. B.Claire says:

    Hi xenith,

    Thank you for your post.
    May 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm
    Beating children only causes them to be more aggressive with their own behavior and is probably a precursor to this very incident and this publication:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1983895,00.html

    How horrified I am that it appears that at least 18 posters go home and beat the living daylights out of their much smaller children. Between that, and my posting of FL statute 39.01 (2)…it’s like we are living in a 19th Century time warp.

    Like you said…very feasible precursor to violence begetting violence, generation after generation of parents too lazy to formulate a much more effective way to deal with discipline. Welcome to the sad picture of how that’s working for Palm Coast.

       1 likes

  6. Jordyn says:

    There have been many articles over the years at various schools across the country with “zero tolerance” policies where a teacher or school resource officer would spot a kitchen knife or some other implement in a student’s car in the parking lot, and the student would be suspended/expelled/held out of graduation/etc. “Zero tolerance” policies are bad policies, and they hurt more than they help. Regardless, without a school official witnessing the presence of the airsoft gun on school property, they’re not going to be able to make a suspension or expulsion stick if it is challenged in court.

    It sounds like the school got to the bottom of the incident almost immediately. It sounds like the students who pointed the gun are idiots and deserve the misdemeanor charge. It sounds like the parents of those same students are also idiots who didn’t bother to teach their children that actions have consequences so now they can all learn to think before they act. It wouldn’t hurt the boy who flipped off the car to think a little also, though I think most of us have done the same thing in traffic, right or wrong. It sounds like FCSO may have been a little slow on the jump, but eventually got there.

    I would be angry if it happened to my son – I understand where the writer is coming from here. But the anger should be at the perpetrators, not the school. I hope the misdemeanor charge sticks and I hope that all learn a lesson. It is easy to say “what if it was a real gun?” but the fact is – it wasn’t. It also wasn’t on school property. If it’s not a real gun to cause a felony charge, and if it wasn’t on school property, then the school district simply does not have the legal right to punish these students further. It is up to FCSO to carry on with the charges.

       4 likes

  7. some guy says:

    @ B.Claire THATs what you get from some saying that those kids deserved a good kick in the but when you say—How horrified I am that it appears that at least 18 posters go home and beat the living daylights out of their much smaller children.

    @Jordyn GREAT POST

       2 likes

  8. meh says:

    i think the bottom line here is, this could have all been avoided if the kids on the bikes didn’t give the finger to the car… they did something stupid, and they got scared in return… something they deserved.

    this is what i think happened. they saw their “friends” driving, they said some stuff, flipped them off, the kids waited and pointed a fake gun at them to mess with them. mom heard it and dove off the deep end…

       5 likes

    • R_sec_resident says:

      Perfect summary of the events. Now she wants them hammered over a series of careless acts on both sides of the fence.

         5 likes

    • Gloria Kollosch says:

      First, my son did not give them the finger the other boy with him did and even then it does not deserve having a realistic looking gun pointed at you.

      Also how many times do I have to say that they were not friends in any sense of the word. Also the incident was started by the car driver who passed close to one of the boys and then hit the horn to scare him and the flip was a reaction to that—-does that make it right, no, but they didn’t start the interaction.

      You also questioned why the boys continued in their direction….at the first encounter they had no idea that it would go further, also it place just off the main road at the intersection of two other roads so they made the turn and encountered them at which the gun was pointed. This fake gun looked real–no orange tip. Yes I did force the issue because a gun was pulled on my son….I don’t care if it is real or not.

      Also to all who feel that the school system shouldn’t be involved…..did you know that if a child does something away from the school itself that results in a felony (or it would’ve been a felony if they were an adult) it will result with the removal of the child from the school…why? to protect others.

      But don’t worry because the boys who were involved with the gun will only face teen court and never have a record. I just hope that they did learn a lesson.

         4 likes

      • meh says:

        i find it hard to believe your son had no involvement in hand gestures thrown the cars way, but lets pretend he didn’t for a moment. the person he’s with did, so that makes him involved, just like you want every kid in the car put in front of a firing range when there was only 1 “gun”.

        then you said they make a right turn and surprise, they were ambushed.. id like to know where these blind turns are that you can’t see 20 feet in front of you from either side. surely they would have recognized the “gunmen” and turned the other way if they felt threatened.

        and again, a car drives too close at you, beeps the horn and you flick them off? the first thing i would think of is “wow this driver is crazy, i’ll distance myself”, not “oo ill show him by remaining calm while my friend flicks him off, yeah sweet plan”….

        lastly, the stunt that was pulled at the school board meeting was embarrassing to watch. only half of the story was told and the manor in which the “message” was delivered was pretty hostile. i think everybody could learn a little bit from this public outburst of humiliation. i was young, and we did stupid things all the time; i think thats part of growing up and maturing. your kids did something stupid, the kids in the car did something stupid…. turn the page and move on with your life.

           4 likes

        • Gloria Kollosch says:

          meh,

          There were 4-5 students in the car and I did not persue charges against everyone, only the driver of the car, because he was in control of the vehicle and made the concsious decision to participate in laying in wait instead of ignoring it and moving on, and the one who aimed the gun for obvious reasons.

          I don’t have to pretend that my son didn’t flip the finger, in fact, he didn’t even know about it until afterwards because he was initially about 30 feet in front of the other boy when the initial flipping took place and slowed after this happened.

          Oh, by the way, when I went to see the DA, I supported a diversion program for the driver of the car because he was the only one who apoligized for his actions both to me and my son, but there was no attempt to apologize until after I filed the charges.

          True only part of the story was told at the meeting because I was only given 3 mins to speak which is why the board asked us to stay after the meeting to tell them more. My issue with the district is if they are going to pick and choose what/how they enforce then they need to rewrite the code to show it, like bus stops are only covered if you are a rider on a bus and why the teachers were never notified (even when the school said this would happen) about what had happened as they would have been on the front lines to be on the look-out for any retaliation. I for one was not humilated and it didn’t appear many others weren’t also…..I had quite a few come up to me about it.

          And finally there are some things I can accept and some that I will never. Gun Safety is one of them and for a person to pull a gun (even if it is a fake replica) on another to instill fear and terror is crossing the line and I will pursue it in any avenue that is available to me. Also part of the growing up and maturing is to learn to accept the consequences of your actions.

             3 likes

      • flaglermomofone says:

        Did you ever think that perhaps the driver honked the horn to let the kids know they were there? Maybe the driver was trying to caution them that there is a vehicle coming, making sure they were aware so they didn’t accidently ride into the street or into the the path of the vehicle.

        Again, not saying that a “gun” being pulled on the kids was ok, it certainly was not but it does seem like your trying to take the blame off your child and his friend for igniting the issue in the first place.

           4 likes

        • John Doe says:

          You don’t screem out of the windown and yell curse words at the kids on bike

          I am on Ms.Kollosch side, that is not a prank that is real, that could have been a real gun and her son could have been shot or swerved into traffic and been killed when they flashed the gun. It says right in the Student Code of Conduct that you cannot have Airsoft guns on school property, I think the kids who pulled the gun should be expelled from school immediatly

             3 likes

  9. Anonymous says:

    All this started because some parent choose to not spend family time with their kid and teach them not to flip off other kids because it could lead to bad things ( just as it did ), in this case All the boy’s should have been arrested for their action’s and the parents should half to go take parenting classes.

       3 likes

    • Gloria Kollosch says:

      Anonymous,

      You are justifying another young adult pulling a gun on other unarmed young adults. You could also say the same thing about the other parents–not spending family time with their children and teaching them that it is not acceptable to point any gun (real or fake) at someone else.

         2 likes

  10. Dave says:

    All this started because some parent choose to not spend family time with their kid to teach them not to flip off other kids because it could lead to bad things , in this case All the boy’s should have been arrested for their action’s and the parents should half to go to parenting classes , once again I say we as parents need to raise our kid’s and stop pointing the finger at the school board for every thing our little angel’s get into .

       5 likes

  11. Gia says:

    Can you imagine somebody else shooting back with a real gun because these idiots had a fake gun. That self defense……

       1 likes

  12. MAXX says:

    Do you know how many people at MATANZAS HIGH SCHOOL bring REAL guns to school and knifes. And no one does anything about it. So many kids threaten to harm students and teachers with weapons and no one does anything. I personally told a few teachers and they said I was lying and the kids were just playing around. PLAYING AROUND!?! Everyday I go to this stupid school and I see about four REAL guns and tons of knifes. Something should be done about the REAL gun problem. The reason this problem is never address is because we have retards in charge.

       2 likes

    • Thinking says:

      Yes, and it sounds like this is part of a point Mrs. Kollosch is trying to make. Had they pointed their airsoft at one of these people who have a real gun at school – which just as easily could have happened, as the “boys will be boys” theory goes, not thinking and all, with a very different outcome. I wonder how that would have been handled by the school board. I’m thinking you folks in charge better start listening… Maxx here has pointed out something very serious of which you should take note. Probably sooner rather than later.

         1 likes

  13. someone says:

    Mrs. Kollosch, I hope you will fight this and change this school system. I am so happy that someone is doing something about this. So, Thank you!

       3 likes

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