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Two FPC Students Involved In Feared Plot Against the School Face Felony Charges

| December 7, 2016

bomb plot fpc

An alleged bomb threat was emailed to Bunnell Elementary School, but there turned out not to be any sort of plot against Flagler Palm Coast High School, above. (© FlaglerLive)

On September 7 six students at Flagler Palm Coast High School were tied to an alleged plot against the school. They were not arrested. But Flagler County Sheriff’s detectives interrogated them, released them to their parents, and suspended them from school.


The Observer’s Jonbathan Simmons reported last month that the boys were still barred from school, and that the district was waiting on word from the sheriff’s office as to whether or when to let the students back in school.

Today, the sheriff’s office, in a vague release issued this evening, said two boys were charged with a felony count each of falsely reporting a bomb threat, and one of the two students was also charged with a felony count of making written threats. The bomb threat had been against Bunnell Elementary School.

“There was no plot that we uncovered to do anything further, so there’s no grand plot to bring down Flagler Palm Coast High School, we did not see that,” Flagler County Sheriff’s Spokesman Jim Troiano said. “However we did see that a threat was made, that a bomb threat was made.”

The two students were not arrested. The charges were forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office, whose prosecutors will decide whether to pursue the charges or drop the case.

“We have cooperation from parents, we’ve had cooperation from individuals involved,” Troiano said, explaining why the students were not arrested. “Each case is different, in this particular case we felt it was warranted to take this course of action by forwarding the charges to the state.”

He would not say whether the students have been allowed back in school or not, but it appears they were expelled from school today: the school board on Tuesday held an expulsion hearing, closed to the public–as those hearings always are–involving two students. Expulsions have become very rare.

Troiano would not say whether the remaining four students have been allowed back in school, either. But, he said, “We’re not doing any more charging of anybody.”

Josh Davis, the attorney of one of the students who was not charged, said he was told of the hearings taking place this week. But that his client has still not been allowed back in school, even though he is being neither expelled nor charged. Davis said none of the students, including the four who have not been charged, have been allowed back in school.

“No one is back in school,” Davis said. “They’re putting it like they didn’t take them out of Flagler County Schools because they still have the option to go to virtual school. They’re using that little technicality that they’re in Florida Virtual School to say that they’re not kicked out of school, but they’re not allowed on any campuses.”

Pressed on the status of the students, Troiano said federal law forbids the release of that information. Asked to cite the law specifically, he referred inquiries to Jason Wheeler, the school district spokesman, who said he was under a directive from Superintendent Jacob Oliva not to release information pertaining to the status of the students, and cited the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy law, usually known by its acronym, FERPA.

FERPA addresses the privacy rights of student records, and specifies that identifiable information is protected. When Wheeler was asked to cite the specific provision of the law that gives the district authority to keep secret so much as the status of the students in question, he said he could not provide it, and would have to check with the superintendent and Kristy Gavin, the school board attorney.

Legally, the burden is on the district to cite specifically what provision of law it is using to shield information that otherwise should be released.

Davis, for his part, was upset over the fact that it took three months to come just this far. “It doesn’t take anyone who’s doing their job properly three months to make a decision like that,” he said.

The students involved in the incident three months ago had their phones and school-issued computers seized and examined.

The sheriff’s brief release states that “With the assistance of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, all of the electronic devices seized were forensically analyzed and when the exam was completed, FCSO detectives were provided approximately 32,000 personal messages (chat) to read.”

“There was emailing, messaging back and forth,” Troiano said, “and we have identified what we believe to be probable cause.”

The incident developed from an emailed threat sent from a student’s school email account to Bunnell Elementary School. That threat was determined to be unfounded. During the bomb threat investigation, detectives and school officials uncovered what at the time appeared to be a separate plot against FPC, which proved unfounded.

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8 Responses for “Two FPC Students Involved In Feared Plot Against the School Face Felony Charges”

  1. Flagler County is depraved says:

    These children are a product of their environments.

  2. JasonB says:

    No, this whole situation is a product of the hysteria created in the wake of 9/11.

  3. FL voter says:

    @FL
    FERPA most definitely covers the release of the student’s disciplinary status. Since I’m not a lawyer, I’ll go to the “FERPA for School Officials FAQ” published by the “Family Policy Compliance Office,” under the DoE, it’s the federal government office responsible for FERPA. The specifically state student discipline files as protected by FERPA. They list “Source: 34 CFR § 99.2”

    In terms of “personally identifiable,” since there are only 7 students total, I think a reasonable person would agree that those reports contain, “information that, alone or in combination is linkable to a specific student that a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty. ”

    http://familypolicy.ed.gov/sites/fpco.ed.gov/files/FPCO_School%20Officials%20FAQ.pdf

    Troiano is right in not release those records.

  4. TBG says:

    I agree with JasonB.

  5. USA Lover says:

    This town and county are growing worse by the day. Bomb threats,car and home burglaries,drugs,murders,dead bodies found all over the county,unethical politicians and police. A few more months and I’m out of this hell hole FOREVER. Good riddance.

  6. Sw says:

    @ USA Right behind you

  7. Anonymous says:

    No parent ever feels that “zero tolerance” policies should apply to their own child, until their own child is a victim and not a perpetrator of such acts.

  8. A Lifeson says:

    I think everyone needs to understand that these kids r just that, KIDS! Unfortunately, the school board and others don’t seem to have the first clue about child development and the brain. At 14, children are unable to think through situations in the same way an adult would. They have not yet developed concrete reasoning skills, yet we are punishing them worse than an adult. Think back to being a new freshman in high school having just turned 14. Could you think clearly? Did you make mistakes? Was a school year a lifetime for you? Did you cry? Did you hurt? Did you feel awkward? We all did!
    This was never a “plan” to hurt anyone, it was simply conversations mostly about gaming, except for one student. So kick them out of school??? Leave them home alone all day? What about mental health???? Does anyone in the school system even care about the mental damage they are causing the boys? It makes me sick and my heart bleeds for these young fellows. Get them help if they need it and get them back at school! They need to develop healthy friendships and learn how to act and speak when using technology. Funny that the school board can’t even see mental health as probably the biggest issue in this county!!! Why do we have so much crime? Because no one ever took the time to teach proper life skills! We can’t assume they just “know”!!!! Just kick them out and move on! As long as the test scores are good, move on!
    We need to spend time teaching children how to behave before we can expect them to learn! The breakdown is obvious every time one turns on the news. Maybe if someone actually cared FIRST, there would be a lot less news stories! Give children a chance to learn, love, and grow!

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