Glynn County Schools board members and administration are concerned by the growing number of threats being made by students in schools.
So far this school year, 10 communicated threats have been made in schools. Those include verbal threats to “shoot up” schools, overheard discussions of shooting threats and threats made on social media or written on school property.
These threats and the following consequences were reviewed Thursday during a Glynn County Board of Education work session.
The increase in threats follows a national trend, said Jim Pulos, assistant superintendent for operations and administrative services for Glynn County Schools.
“After Parkland, the number of incidents that went up was five-fold across the country,” said Pulos, noting that the threateners are copycats and/or attention seekers.
Administrators and school police are taking the threats seriously, Pulos said. Of the eight students who have been identified as making these threats, they’ve been expelled, sometimes for two years or permanently, or given long-term suspensions.
Audrey Chapman, the associate juvenile court judge in Glynn County, has heard most of the cases in her courtroom. But she said there are limits to the penalties she can give perpetrators.
Chapman plans to approach State Sen. William Ligon about changing the state law to increase the time in youth detention centers that students who make these kinds of public threats can be sentenced to. This kind of crime is serious, she said.
“It shuts our school down,” Chapman said. “It causes safety concerns for the whole county.”
The school board also reviewed discipline reports for the first nine weeks of school, in light of changes that were made this school year to high schools to implement random drug sweeps and drug testing of students.
The number of drug-use offenses has increased from last school year, Pulos said. The main cause for concern, he said, is the increase in incidents that involved vaping “magic pods” that include a substance other than nicotine.
This is a national trend as well, he said.
“We’re seeing this as well across the nation, where students are passing out, being taken to the hospitals, et cetera, as a result of partaking in these particular devices and these chemicals that have ben enhanced with synthetic marijuana,” he said.
School board member Mike Hulsey said this is another issue he’d like to see state legislators address.
“It’s concerning to me as a parent, as a school board member, as a community member,” he said. “This is a big issue…. Where else are they doing it? They’re doing it on the beach, in their cars on the way to school, on the way home.”