Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Vasquez left an audio message for parents regarding an increase in joke threats throughout the Orange County School District on Tuesday.
“Some students may think of this as a prank, but this is not a joke and it’s taken very seriously,” Vasquez said. “It doesn’t matter if they say it, text it, write it, snap it or post it on social media, students who make threats can face serious consequences according to our Code of Student Conduct and through law enforcement.”
Vasquez also encouraged parents to speak to their children about the importance of safety and check there are no prohibited items in their backpacks before sending them to school.
Vasquez’ statement follows a series of prank threats throughout the Orange County Public School system this past week. West Orange High School in Winter Garden has received two written threats within the span of two days, sparking investigation from deputies. A suspect for these threats has since been identified, the sheriff's office said.
Maitland High School, in Volusia County, released a statement similar to Vasquez’ after a prank shooting scare caused panic on Friday, Sept. 9.
“To prevent these types of situations from occurring in the future, we are asking parents and guardians to communicate with their children how dangerous these pranks are, how they create a very unsafe school environment, and how serious the internal and external consequences are,” the Twitter statement read.
Anyone who becomes aware of a threat should report it through the FortifyFL app, Vasquez said.