Threats of violence in schools seems to be the unfortunate reality that parents and students must face today. Schools and school districts are on heightened alert for any potential threats of violence. Many times, students make poor decisions discussing a threat, weapons, etc. While sometimes this is just a misunderstanding, or a “joke” in poor taste, the impact of this behavior can be serious.
Making comments to classmates, writing things in a student’s notebooks, or posting things on social media such as YouTube, Instagram, etc. can lead to serious trouble. Referencing violence or violent acts, threatening to harm oneself or others, or speaking about weapons could all be perceived as behavior that would warrant the school or school district to start an investigation. Depending on the seriousness of the threat, outside law enforcement agencies are many times also called.
Depending on the actual incident, a student can be accused of various infractions. These could include threats, assaults, disruptive conduct, or inciting a disturbance. Some school districts are creating specific infractions that deal with students making threats of violence against schools. Sanctions can include suspensions but more often than not, the student is referred for expulsion. This normally means that if the student is found to have committed the offense, he or she would be sent to an alternative school setting. This can range anywhere from one to two school years.
Claiming that the child was only “joking” and was not serious about the perceived threat rarely works. Many times, it is the outcome of the behavior which is the problem. Did the student make a threat which freighted other students? Did the school go into lock down? Did it disrupt the learning process? I know of students who have been placed in alternative schools for posing with what was clearly a toy weapon. Even if the student did not mean what he or she said, the school can still take action.
Yes. I assist students in Florida against these type of school disciplinary issues. My expertise in the school disciplinary process gives each student the best chance for success.
Richard Asselta is a defense lawyer who fights for students facing suspension or expulsion from K-12 schools in Florida.
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