Last Updated: 4:35 p.m.
A 13-year-old student at Buddy Taylor Middle School was charged with two felony counts of making threats to kill after he allegedly threatened his teacher and a classmate at school on Tuesday. It is the second instance of a student arrest for making threats at school since school resumed on Aug. 10.
The student’s alleged threats were laced in misogynistic insults against the teacher, a recurring theme in such incidents involving Flagler school students. The alleged victim is a 51-year-old art teacher.
No weapons were involved. According to the boy’s arrest report, he told a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy that he was having issues with another student and got upset when his teacher intervened. He denied threatening to shoot her. But in the teacher’s telling, the boy told her to shut up, insulted her in various ways, pointed his hand at her and “insinuated he had a gun and said ‘I am going to shoot you’ multiple times.” The teacher reported he also threatened to empty his clip into another student, though the teacher did not think that the other student heard the alleged threat. Other students did, however.
The teacher was “visibly shaken,” according to the report, and had been in fear for her life. It was the first time that the 13 year old was in her class. An assistant principal referred the matter to the school resource officer at Buddy Taylor.
The Sheriff’s Office in a release about Tuesday’s incident noted it was “the sixth similar arrest of a student in the last 30-days.” Based on Sheriff’s Office documentation of all recent incidents, the statement is incorrect.
Sheriff’s releases are often reproduced or read verbatim, without verification, in various media, including radio and television, so the statement risks creating the false impression of a significant uptick in threatening statements at school or threatening to do harm at school. Sheriff’s releases that have documented such arrests have in fact totaled only two in the last three months: aside from the one reported today, a 12-year-old girl was arrested at Buddy Taylor on Sept. 30 for making threats to shoot up the school.
Before that, a 13-year-old Bunnell girl was arrested for making threats in mid-August, the week school resumed–but not at school, nor did the threat involve a school.
There have been three other, unannounced arrests, but not in the past 30 days, not involving schools, or taking place at schools.
On Aug. 23, two 12-year-old students who happen to attend Buddy Taylor Middle School were charged with making written threats to kill, but the students, both girls, were arrested a week after the fact. The incident had not taken place at school or during school hours, but in an exchange on Instagram. In the course of the exchange, the girls said things like, “I will kill you” and “my mom will kill you” or “my dad will kill you.” The school’s Threat Assessment Team–each school has such teams–considered the threat transient, meaning that it did not rise to a level of gravity warranting law enforcement intervention. (Threat Assessment Teams are responsible for assessing threats and judging whether to involve police.) It was nevertheless turned over to a deputy, who determined that the two arrests were in order.
Another arrest took place on Aug. 14, involving a 13-year-old Bunnell girl, but again, the incident was unrelated to school other than that alleged assailant and alleged victim knew each other from school, were friends, but were having an argument by text and voice clips, one of them threatening to “put a bullet between your eyes,” and another item showing the alleged assailant with a gun. The girl was arrested.
There have been two incidents at the Indian Trails Sports Complex involving juveniles and actual guns, with two juveniles arrested on charges of illegal gun possession, but not on charges of making threats. The threat-to-kill charge is a second-degree felony. Students are usually sentenced to juvenile probation. The district typically removes the child from campus but continues his or her education through remote instruction.
While all three children arrested since August for making threats in school or directed at schools have said that they had no intention to carry out their threats, nor had the means to do so, two of the students unquestionably used vile and demeaning language directed at their teachers, reflecting sharpened coarseness against and devaluation of teachers.
Education Week reports that there’s been 24 school shootings so far this year, 16 since Aug. 1 (none in Florida), equaling or nearly equaling the rate in 2018 and 2019. The numbers fell in 2020, to 10, when the majority of schools were shuttered in the nation due to covid.
“Making threats to others is no joke and will always be taken seriously,” Sheriff Rick Staly said in today’s release. “It is unfortunate how often we have to make these arrests. Parents, I ask that you please teach your children the proper way to handle anger and that making threats or acting out is not the solution. I once again implore parents to be the Sheriff in your home and talk to your children. We don’t want to be the Sheriff of your child but we will if you don’t.”