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16-Year-Old Girl Who Made Bigoted Threats About FPC Teacher Is Arrested

| May 14, 2019

The incidents involving bigoted threats against a teacher seized the Flagler Palm Coast High School community and beyond in mid-December. (© FlaglerLive)

The incidents involving bigoted threats against a teacher seized the Flagler Palm Coast High School community and beyond in mid-December. (© FlaglerLive)

Circuit Judge Chris France today signed a warrant for the arrest of a 16-year-old Flagler Palm Coast High School girl accused of making threats to kill one of her teachers in seemingly jocular, relentlessly bigoted racist computer messages with a fellow-student in mid-December.

The State Attorney is charging the girl with a count of written threats to kill, a felony. It’s the latest change from the charge the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office filed in December–misdemeanor assault–after initially indicating that there would be no charges. The warrant issued today follows a months-long investigation by sheriff’s detectives that included an analysis of the girl’s school-issued computer’s content, as well as that of the boy she was chatting with. Lee is black. The two students are white.

There are no hate-crime charges, though initially the sheriff’s office indicated there may have been a hate-crime enhancement to the assault charge (and the hate crime charge was submitted to the State Attorney).

The boy, also 16, is not being charged–at least not in connection with this particular incident. According to the sheriff’s office, he did not have direct knowledge of Kimberly Lee, the 48-year-old teacher at the center of the alleged threats.

The girl never denied writing the threats when interviewed by two detectives in the presence of a dean at FPC, but denied having any intentions to harm Lee, and never intended for Lee to see the messages, though she said she knew her computer and all its content could be monitored by school authorities. Lee in fact did see the messages, written in the explicitly violent and graphic language of lynchings as the students demean their victim, revel in their superiority and their semi-literate ability to “get away with murdur tonight.”

The girl described the messages as an “inappropriate joke,” according to the arrest affidavit. The boy described the messages likewise. But the messages left Lee “petrified” to the point of asking her husband to leave work immediately and buy a firearm that very day, according to the affidavit.

The students were initially suspended and faced further disciplinary action from the school, but at first the sheriff’s office found no grounds for charges. That changed when the extent of the students’ racially motivated messages were published, when the NAACP’s Flagler branch got involved (subsequently holding a demonstration critical of the sheriff and supportive of the victim on the county courthouse steps), and public pressure made inaction by the sheriff virtually impossible. The sheriff’s office insisted that the investigation remained open. The computers were sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which extracted their contents, enabling a review by detectives in late April.

They also located new evidence: “In addition to the threats previously known to law enforcement, other threats were located,” the affidavit states. The threats mirror the obscenity and cavalier attitude of those already known, though the boy states that he would help the girl “hide the body.” A brief section of the affidavit, referring to Russian language (the boy in question is of Russian extraction), is redacted by the sheriff’s office, pointing either to an ongoing investigation or to self-incriminating statements.

“I made this case a top priority for the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office,” Sheriff Rick Staly was quoted as saying in a release this evening. “Our investigators needed time to do an excellent job, which they did with this case. Our teachers deserve our appreciation and should never feel threatened with harm by anyone. Hatred and threats of violence have no place in our schools or our community.”

For all the vileness and stupidity of the students’ messages to each other, the state’s case relies on a gray area of law: making racist statements is not illegal, and prosecutors will have to prove an intent to harm on the girl’s part beyond the mere fact that her teacher or school authorities uncovered the alleged threats: the alleged threats were about the teacher rather than directed against her, a distinction that victims don’t necessarily see but that the law and defense lawyers do: the statute under which the girl is being charged is explicit that a threat to kill or injure is anything written “to the person to whom such letter or communication is sent.” The sheriff’s office’s initial hesitancy to pursue charges and the confusion over what charges were filed along the way may become part of the defense’s strategy, should the case go much further, as would the politically charged climate that surrounded the students’ suspension and the community’s reaction. The likelier outcome is a disposition through juvenile court.

The girl was processed through the Flagler County jail today and turned over to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Daytona Beach. The girl is a first-time offender. Typically, first-time offenders are released back to their parents to await further proceedings. The Observer reported last week that Lee returned to her teaching duties at FPC after an unpaid leave of absence.

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24 Responses for “16-Year-Old Girl Who Made Bigoted Threats About FPC Teacher Is Arrested”

  1. Elaine says:

    Those two students should have to pay the teacher any loss’s of income plus payment for harassment, plus any monies her husband lost from work. Failure to do so should call for expelsion from any high school and withhold any diploma until full restitution is made along with a letter of apology.

  2. ASF says:

    Yeah, return the young lady to the same environment that taught her that kind of hate in the place. Her parents seem to be doing a bang up job of supervising her and teaching her the importance of tolerance and respect.

  3. carol says:

    That Judge is a bully.
    Making a mountain out of a molehill.
    A felony, what a joke.
    I’m sure everyone has behaved like this in their teens.
    It’s called growing up!
    Get over it.

  4. RA says:

    There were quite a few people who thought this should be dismissed almost immediately as simply “a joke,” or suggested that this was a private conversation protected by the 1st amendment. Hopefully, this arrest will open peoples’ eyes to the fact that threats need to be taken seriously and fully investigated. I still don’t understand how these students’ actions don’t amount to “conspiracy to commit murder.” It’s very scary to realize that this individual has been walking around freely for the last five months.

  5. Really says:

    Stupid is as stupid does

  6. Right says:

    @ ASF
    Can’t always blame the parents. I don’t know the environment in this case but most teens lead two lives. One their friends know and one their parents know and the difference is night and day.

  7. Barbara Smith says:

    A threat to our freedom of speech… we all said dumb things as kids

  8. Concerned citizen says:

    Charges should be dropped immediately and the state attorney should resign. They politicized this case and bored to the demands of the NAACP. read the statute she was charged against and you will realize no crime we committed. I hope the young ladies gets to sure both the SA and FCSO for false arrest and dragging her name through the mud

  9. Annoyed says:

    Yeah…. pretty sure ” everyone ” has threatened to kill their teacher, described exactly how they’re going to do it, and how they’re going to get away with it… Because that makes sense. We all do that in our teens. Just kids saying silly things.
    What kind of things did you grow up learning or saying? That doesn’t sound normal to me.

  10. ASF says:

    This young woman’s home environment should not be assumed to be all peace and light. If her parents are contributory or if they are simply not up to the task of what is going on with their own child, that needs to be assessed–especially if she simpy ends up being “home-schooled.” What kind of supervision will she be receiving? Parents have plenty of leeway to raise their children but their failures to do so properly should not be foisted on the rest of society if they are unable or unwilling to fulfill their parental responsibilities.
    I have plenty of friends who are teachers. And I have heard plenty of pretty hair-raising stories about how when the kids are caught being physically and/or verbally abusive and disruptive, the parents come to school and blame and harass the teachers. Unfortunately, on too many ocassions, the administrations back down which sends a bad signal to bullies everywhere–whether the bullies involved are the kids, the parents or both.

  11. hawkeye says:

    this is an example of someone being big and bold on their computer,a typewriter tough gal ,if you get my drift.This 16 year old probably would have never said anything like this to the teacher ,to her face.I hope that the 16 year old gets punished to the extent that she will think the next time before she makes these type of comments,however ,I doubt it. I also think this kid should reimburse Mrs Lee for whatever monies she has lost.There are only two things that people respond to , pain and loss of money, no one is going to give these kids any pain so maybe a monetery loss and some community service is in order. I am a white mutt ,my Dad was in the Marine Corps for 14 years , if I would have threatened anyone ,of any race, and he got wind of it,he definately would have made me atone for my actions .

  12. Kandi says:

    @Barbara Smith… a threat to our freedom of speech? Her speech was a threat, which is against the law. Unless of course you’re suggesting because it was racist, we should just laugh awkwardly as though it were a tasteless joke made by a drunken uncle during Thanksgiving dinner. Meanwhile, all over the country, the government is deciding that even in cases of rape, women no longer have the right to decide what happens within their own uteruses.
    I believe the terms so often used in cases like these, even when speaking about someone’s child, are “thug”, “criminal”, and “don’t break the law if you can’t pay the consequences.”

  13. FPC Granny says:

    @ Concerned Citizen well said!

    Always blaming the parents first!!….the kids spend more time at school with teachers and staff then they do at home!! This was another reason to put a gun in the hands of somebody untrained. Wonder if she will “carry” on school property?? If she did, I wonder how much she would “protect the students” or would the students need protecting from her?? Social Sentinel needs to get out of the kids “private messages” and their computers!!

  14. ASF says:

    And as usual, if this young woman had acted on her threats–or if a Black student had gotten wind of her online bigoted posts and decided to give her a taste of her own medicine by making threats against her and her white friends and accomplices on-line–the “Concerned Citizens” and “FPC Granny” s of the world would be totally up in arms–literally, I am afraid.

  15. flaborn says:

    This is a cautionary tale for every family! What you write online is around forever!!! Even if it was a “bad joke,” kids /peolpe have no idea what their future might bring and who they might work with/for.

    Please, please, please talk to your family – young and old – warn them against putting negative things out there. Everyone should be aware that you could be recorded at any time, anywhere, and it can be taken out of context so easily.

  16. FPC Granny says:

    @ASF Race is not the issue here so I will discount your remarks. What is at hand is a “teenager” making a “private” rant!! You are right it should not have been said….the only reason this kid got pull out was that Social Sentinel is monitoring “all cell phones and computers”….so NOTHING you say or do on your phone or computer is private!! This young lady has NEVER been in trouble..she is now looking at a felony charge for something she said in “private”…right or wrong what she said..nor the color of her skin she will have a record and any attempt at a solid career through education is down the tubes!!

  17. ASF says:

    @FPC Granny says: Given the violence that permeates our school systems (two kids were involved in a knife fight just today at Buddy Taylor Middle School), none of us can afford to ignore threats of violence made against teachers OR students these days. Perhaps you should try picking up a newspaper and actually reading it–or turning on the news and realizing that those stories are not only real, but are happening right under our noses. Ignoring threats like these and “hoping they don’t really mean it” is not an option in today’s world.

  18. FPC Granny says:

    @ASF A stabbing (probably due to bullying) vs. reading someone’s “private” message have NO relation.

    It is apparent that you are not following the fact in order to “even know remarks” were made by this girl, Social Sentinel (locate in the government building) had to spy and open this young girls “private” message in order to know the contents of this “private” message!!

    I am not sure if you are aware that it is a felony to open another person’s (snail) mail…which is also a “private” communication.
    Since I don’t read a newspaper as I have progressed to the 21st Century I do prefer reading news online. So I will pass along some information in that format.


    It’s a federal offense to open mail that doesn’t belong to you. If you do it intentionally, you could be looking at a $250,000 fine and up to five years in a federal prison.

    Most people understand that it’s illegal to open mail that’s not addressed to them. What’s not so widely understood is just how serious the consequences can be. Intentionally opening, intercepting or hiding someone else’s mail is the felony crime of mail theft. It comes with some heavyweight penalties, including five years’ incarceration in a federal prison.

  19. Concerned Citizen says:

    Everyone cries Freedom Of Speech. Yes your freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment. However you are not free of consequences. It’s time people started learning that. You can’t cry fire in a public place and cause a stampeded. Then not expect to go to jail. You shouldn’t be able to make threats and get away with it.

    The other worrisome aspect of this article is rushing out to buy a fire arm. New gun owners need to slow down and take the time to train. And this is coming from a former fire arms instructor. If you put yourself into a self defense situation and draw you better be ready to commit. It’s a heavy decision to make and you only have one chance to do the right thing.

  20. ron says:

    @FPC Granny . There is nothing private about a public computer, The students are made to sign a document saying that anything on it or transpired from it is public. They also know that anything they do on it could be used against them. The Social Sentinel is doing the job that they were hired for. In addition, she was repeatedly told, as all students were, that the FCSO will not accept these types of threats – so she knew and did it anyway. Now she is crying it was a joke?!?

  21. ASF says:

    We have a lot of “FPC Grannies” in the world who would prefer to pay the three little (deaf dumb, blind) monkeys game. Enabling and being defensive are not sufficient parenting techniques. THAT is the crucial point that, too often, gets lost in the translation.

  22. PC says:

    the girl is 16, give me a break. everyone is stupid at that age. Kids at that age aren’t playing with a full deck.

  23. SD says:

    Excuse me for being a little late to the party.

    I would first like to address a comment “carol” made on this post stating “I’m sure everyone has behaved like this in their teens.” Actually, carol, I am a teenager that attends FPC, and I can ASSURE you, carol, that not everyone makes stupid comments like this. To sit there and essentially plan out a murder and all that kind of stuff is not normal teenage behavior, I can promise you that, carol. I also understand you intentionally used a hyperbole to get your point across, but it is still invalid nonetheless. I am curious to know what kind of situations are considered “mountains” to you because it is quite frightening for people to think vile comments that these two students made are merely “molehills”. And yes, carol, the JUDGE, is clearly the bully in this scenario, and not the two kids. Only thing I can agree with you on is that those two kids need to grow up.

    I would next like to address a comment made by “Barbara Smith” stating “A threat to our freedom of speech… we all said dumb things as kids” specifically the “dumb thing” portion. I feel as that Kandi and Concerned Citizen addressed the part pertaining to the first amendment right suitably enough so I won’t worry about that but I find it interesting how you called this situation as merely a kid saying a dumb thing. Yes it is obviously stupid for these students to say that, but a dumb comment is saying something like “these teachers are so stupid” or “i wish this teacher would die” or complaining about a school play to be “anti-cop” and “anti-capitalist.” Like mija, its just a play, its not that serious and I’m sure no one left the production thinking about how anti-capitalist a SCHOOL PLAY was. Anyways, back on to topic, those are dumb comments. If you read the conversation the two students had when discussing the teacher, those were VILE, and utterly DISGUSTING, BIGOTED, comments. Calling those comments dumb things teenagers say completely obliterates the teacher’s feelings of not feeling safe. She obviously felt attacked and there was a reason for that, and she has every reason to have felt that way, they were not just dumb comments.

    Next on to comments made by FPC Granny, I would first like to discuss your comment about the private discussion these two students had. First of all, it was on SCHOOL computers, emphasis on school. That means, owned and issued by the school for educational purposes. It is the same way that when you go on a computer at a library, you are subject to having your activity viewed, and if something as horrible as this happened, then it can be used against you. If you walk down FPC and ask any random student if they know their activity can be monitored on a school computer, chances are they will say yes. Same way if one was to bring anything harmful or illegal on campus either in a personal backpack or a locker, school officials have the right to search their property with reasonable clause. Just because it is online does not negate that. As ron says, there is nothing private about a public computer. It is not our computers, and it is a privilege to have them. Also, why are you so concerned about them not being able to discuss potential murder on a school computer? Isn’t that better than actually having someone murdered in our community? I am sure if the plan was pursued, that would be the last thing on your mind, FPC Granny. Also, if you read online news like you claim you do, you will know that Sheriff Rick Staly has said countless times that there is a 0 tolerance policy to threats made. If you walk into FPC, you will see posters hung all throughout the hallways stating that exact sentence. Teachers have stated this 0 tolerance policy in class, at least nearly all of my teachers have, so chances are my teachers are not the only ones to do so. The two students involved should face and even expect charges, this 0 tolerance policy is not a secret and it is virtually impossible to not know about this policy if you are a student in Flagler County and if you don’t, they probably live their lives with air pods glued to their ears.

    I apologize if anyone feels attacked by any comments I have made, but I saw some disturbing comments that negates the severity of this situation and I felt then need to express my opinion like all of you have.

  24. Kim Pandich-Gridley says:

    “Out of the mouths of babes….”. SD, your comments are both articulate and insightful. They also accurately address the well-publicized issue of zero tolerance on a SCHOOL owned computer as well as the fact that the majority of students (certainly the ones I’ve dealt with in Flagler schools) are good kids who clearly understand the difference between stupid comments and consequential conversations. Threatening statements are always taken seriously these days and to feign ignorance or state “I was only joking” no longer excuses behavior. Having said that, I don’t want to see a kid’s life permanently destroyed over serious stupidity. Punishment, yes, but also perhaps the possibility of restitution and redemption.

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