School threats: What happens next?

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - When students make a threat to harm others at school, the work doesn't stop after their arrest.

Sarah Whaler, Coordinator of Student Placement Options for Bay District Schools, said the district typically tells students, "Don't say anything about guns, knives, bombs, anything of that nature because what it will result in is being placed to another school."

Bay District students who are arrested after making a threat are usually recommended to go to an alternative school in the county.

"If they make the threat and they get arrested, they will be off that campus," Whaler said.

Bay District Schools' Code of Student Conduct and Discipline says, "Behavior which shall result in a ten (10) day suspension, expulsion for no less than one (1) full year and a referral for criminal prosecution:" followed later by, "Any threat, regardless of the location from which it is made, to throw, project, place or discharge any destructive device with intent to do bodily harm to any person or with intent to do damage to any property of any person, or the making of a false report with intent to deceive, mislead, or otherwise misinform any person, concerning the placing or planting of any bomb, dynamite, or other deadly explosive or concerning the use of firearms in a violent manner involving school or school personnel’s property, school transportation, or a school-sponsored activity."

School officials tell us when some students make threats, they're just trying to be funny, but after incidents like the Parkland Massacre, law enforcement and district officials aren't taking any chances.

"I can tell you, we have had to place many of students who end up saying, 'I thought it was funny.' Unfortunately, none of their classmates, you know, the administrators, no one else seems to think it's funny. So we're hoping to get the message across to our students," Whaler said.

Captain Jason Daffin of the Bay County Sheriff's Office said, "They may have legitimately been joking, but as I said before, we have a zero tolerance."

If law enforcement determines there was a threat and makes an arrest, the case gets turned over to the State Attorney's Office.

"Typically what will happen is the defendant will be taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice if they're a minor, to the Bay County Jail if it's an adult," he explained.

In some cases, making a threat can be a cry for help from students who have experienced trauma.

"Getting to know really the root of what the problem is would benefit everybody from the initial standpoint," Cheri Wroblewski, an Administrator on Special Assignment helping with mental health in the district, said.

A joke or not, any threat to school safety is not being taken lightly.