PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – One of three 12-year-old students who were arrested over the weekend for allegedly making threats on social media appeared in juvenile court on Tuesday.
Police aren’t elaborating on the specifics of the threat that was allegedly made against Silver Trail Middle School in Pembroke Pines, but authorities say they are taking the threats seriously.
All three students involved, two boys and a girl, are now facing a second-degree felony charge for making a written threat to do bodily harm or commit an act of terrorism. The girl, who appeared in court Tuesday, also faces an additional second-degree felony charge for conspiracy to commit a criminal offense.
“The one thing I wish is that as soon as they found out about this, the school would have notified us. This happened either Saturday or Sunday. We didn’t find out until Monday afternoon,” concerned parent Noah Simonetti said.
Police say the three students made threats against their school in a Snapchat conversation.
School staff told officers about the threats on Sunday.
“These kids probably are making jokes, but it’s not that funny anymore…especially with all the shooting incidents that’s been happening nationwide,” one parent, Roel Batang, said.
Police notified the students’ parents and took the children into custody.
A representative from Broward County Public Schools told the judge Tuesday that the girl has been suspended for 10 days and the district is recommending that she be expelled.
The girl wiped away tears as she listened to her punishment.
The judge ordered that she:
- Cannot return to a Broward school until a threat assessment is completed
- Cannot use the Internet except for school purposes
- Will be released and ordered to stay in intensive home detention after she completes a psychological evaluation
- Have an electronic monitor on
- Cannot use social media
- Must not have any access to firearms or other weapons
- Must not have any contact with her two co-defendants.
The girl’s parents were in attendance at the court hearing. They said she is a good girl who follows the rules at home. They swore to the judge that there are no firearms in their house.
A representative from Broward Public Schools said the girl attended Glades Middle School in Miramar last year, where she got all As except one B and has an excellent attendance record.
One of the officials in court said that someone saw the threat the girl posted on Snapchat and convinced her to take the post down. She said she never intended to act on the threat and said it was just a joke.
The judge decided against ordering that the girl be held in a secure detention facility due to her strong academic record and her lack of a prior criminal history, among other factors.
A day earlier, the interim superintendent said the arrests are part of a larger trend.
“I regret to have to share with you that over the past few days, our schools have been receiving multiple security threats,” Vickie Cartwright said.
The threats have Simonetti, whose son attends the school, worried about his son’s safety.
“It’s really concerning. I’m really having second thoughts about wanting to bring him to school,” he said. “It’s terrifying, honestly. He could have been in the same class with this kid and if he would have carried anything out, my son could have been in a very bad situation.”
The superintendent and police department are urging parents to talk to their children about the importance of being careful about what they post on social media.