Flagler Palm Coast High School is on heightened security status as students are arriving on campus this morning following a threat with “some specificity,” according to an email to staff and a message to parents issued by FPC Principal Tom Russell at dawn.
“We have been made aware of an anonymous threat made against FPC,” Russell wrote his staff. “There is some specificity with this threat so we have brought in extra security from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. They have joined our school security team in going through the campus.”
Russell wrote that there was “no evidence that the threat is credible at this time,” but is having staff go through their security protocols after the first period bell around 8 a.m., following which, classroom instruction is set to resume. Russell did not respond to calls and a text this morning.
Bus pickups are not affected, but students were being held on buses at the school, until 7:30, before an all-clear was expected at that time. (Students were in fact let out of buses around 7:40 a.m. By 7:45, normalcy appeared to be the rule in school corridors, with students perhaps a bit more glued to their phones than usual.)
“From all the information we have, it’s going to be a threat that turns out not to be anything,” Superintendent Jim Tager said. “Kid overheard another kid saying something about bullets and pipes. It was enough that we wanted to take a look at it.”
“The way I understand it, the school received an anonymous tip,” a Flagler County Sheriff’s spokesperson said at 7:10 a.m. “I don’t have specifics on the threat but units have been on campus all morning and have swept the school and are allowing teachers inside now. There will be additional resources on campus today and they will continue to monitor all school activities.”
In a recorded phone message disseminated to FPC students’ homes, Russell repeated the reference to “some specificity,” without being more specific, and said: “I want to stress the importance of parents, students and staff as our eyes and ears,” urging students or others to use the district’s “see something, say something” means of alerting officials of any suspicious sightings or activity.
Tager said David Bossardette, the district’s risk manager, who oversees school resource deputies, and the sheriff’s Chief Bovino, led the security response early this morning. “They searched the buildings around 6 this morning, nothing turned up, which obviously is really, really good,” the superintendent said.
Once released from buses, or for those arriving on foot or by car drop-off, it was possible that students were to be gathered in a central area for a time, until the all-clear. Tager said the all-clear was expected at 7:30 a.m.
The tip was sent to officials through the state’s Fortify Florida alert system.
“We’ve done what we can but as you know, this is a tough, tough, tough one to solve for schools across the country,” Tager said.
Russell issued an update by automated phone calls that went out after 8:30, saying the origin of the threat was now being traced and that “we are treating this with extreme seriousness.”