After shooting threats, School Board to consider more security at schools

Livi Stanford @DC_lstanford

TAVARES – Lake County School Board member Stephanie Luke suggested Monday that the district review its security measures in light of two threats of violence at local schools in the past week. “I just think that we need to make sure we are ready,” said Luke. “It has been brought back to the forefront with the threats that have been localized to Lake County.” Umatilla High School increased police presence this week after someone scrawled a threat against the school on a bathroom wall.

Just 75 out of 800 students showed up for class on Monday. No incidents occurred. The threat at Umatilla High School comes two days after two teenagers were arrested on Jan.

26 in what authorities described as a plot to launch a mass shooting at The Villages Charter Middle School. The students, 13 and 14 years old, reportedly told fellow students of a plan to shoot all students wearing white shirts. The plot came apart when a high school student overheard some middle school students talking about it and reported it to authorities.

School Board members are expected to have a shade meeting about security, meaning it will not be public because of issues related to security, according to School Board Chairman Marc Dodd. Dodd said he agreed there needed to be discussions on security. “Over the last few years we have seen a rise in school incidents across the country, which is definitely concerning,” he said. “Seeing a couple threats close to home does elevate that and make it personal.

It is smart to talk about it.”‘ School Board member Kristi Burns said it is always important to have such discussions, not necessarily because of the recent incidents. “I don’t think we have reviewed the policy in some time,” she said, adding it is integral to have policies that match best practices in how to diffuse an active shooter situation at a school.

Sherri Owens, spokeswoman for Lake County Schools, said the district has 23 deputies and two Mount Dora police officers primarily assigned to the high school and middle schools. “They provide assistance to the elementary schools as well,” she said. “In addition, a commander and lieutenant are assigned to the unit along with a sergeant and corporal on the north end, a sergeant and corporal on the south end, and a K-9 unit.” Lake County Sheriff’s spokesman Lt.

John Herrell said there would be an increased presence at Umatilla High School today. “I don’t know it is going to be the level it was yesterday,” he said. Herrell said the LCSO takes all incidents, such as the threat reported at Umatilla High School, seriously.

“With each encounter we will respond appropriately,” he said. “It will depend upon the facts and circumstances of each individual case. We would love to put a stop to this nonsense where kids do this stuff to get attention and disrupt school functions. What we would really like is for parents to have serious conversations with their child about the seriousness of the consequences of their actions.”

Herrell added if the School Board reached out with a specific concern about security, the LCSO would be more than willing to work with them.

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