Yet another Miami-Dade County Public Schools student was arrested this week in a string of online threats of violence that have plagued the district all school year — and ramped up even more in the past week.
The latest arrest on Tuesday involved threats made to Miami Lakes-Hialeah Senior High School, said Jaquelyn Calzadilla, executive director of external communications for the district.
As of Tuesday evening, the district had not released information about the student’s age, gender or school the person attends.
The arrest comes a day after two students were arrested in separate threat incidents. In one, a 15-year-old boy made threats to Miami Senior High School, district officials said. The district has not released specifics of the other arrest, other than to say the student accused is a 16-year-old girl.
The district issued a press release Tuesday night reporting that the Miami-Dade Public Schools Police Department has investigated 40 threats and made six arrests. However, adding to the urgency of the situation is that half of the threats took place within the past week.
Although all of them have turned out to be hoaxes, investigating the matter is a tremendous drain of resources, time and money — as well as a source of anxiety for parents, school staff and students.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has warned students not to take part in the threats, even if they think they’re a joke. The students arrested so far face felony charges, which, if convicted, place severe limitations on their future educational and job prospects.
“Our Schools Police Department will continue to collaborate with federal and local law enforcement partners and the State Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all individuals associated with the threats against our schools,” Carvahlo said in a statement. “Hoax or not, there will be short- and long-term consequences that will leave indelible marks on the lives of these individuals.”
The arrest of the 15-year-old boy Monday happened after a threat was made Sunday night. The district’s police department worked with the FBI and U.S. Secret Service to track down the computer source of the threat, Carvalho said Monday.
“We investigate every threat, including pranks, with extreme vigor,” Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Edwin Lopez said in a statement. “These threats wreak havoc for the entire school community. We urge parents and guardians to speak to their children about the importance of acting responsibly and how negative actions can lead to life-altering repercussions.”
The threats come a week after a mass shooting at an Oxford, Michigan, school that killed four people and wounded several others. Carvalho said that shooting likely sparked the recent rash of hoax threats.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen this before in the aftermath of shootings across America. There are copycat threats, which quite frankly, is unacceptable,” Carvalho said during a press conference Monday.
Broward County Public Schools is also investigating a series of threats to its schools made recently via social media. And one student was arrested last week on a felony charge following threats made against Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the scene of the worst mass shooting at a high school in U.S. history.
“Every threat is taken seriously and investigated in collaboration with law enforcement and the District’s Special Investigative Unit,” the district said in a statement Monday.