Friday, June 22, 2018

Graffiti causes concern at Plant City High School

Friday's message to parents from the principal of Plant City High School:

 This morning when we arrived at school, we found someone had painted graffiti on the several outside walls by the student parking lot and the bus ramp. There was no graffiti found on any interior walls at that time or since then.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Plant City Police and school security are all investigating. They do not believe there are any credible threats against our school. Our students and staff are all safe. In fact we just completed our scheduled lockdown drill with great precision.

The graffiti has already been cleaned from the walls. Law enforcement is reviewing evidence to see if they can determine who wrote the graffiti. We have extra law enforcement on campus as a precaution. Otherwise, we are preceding as a normal Friday.

The message did not specify what the graffiti said.

The Tampa Bay Times is taking a closer-than-usual look at school-based incidents that generate calls to parents, in this time of heightened concern.

The first full school week in Hillsborough following  the Feb. 14 Parkland shootings also saw:

  • * A lockdown Friday at Seffner Elementary School, when a student said he or she believed another student may have a weapon in their backpack. School security determined there was no weapon, although they searched the campus as a precaution and congratulated the child for stepping forward.
  • * A lock-in at Middleton High School on Thursday because someone was seen on nearby Wilder Avenue carrying a BB gun. He was not threatening anyone, but the school went on lock-in as a precaution.
  • * Additional security was sent to Sickles High School, also on Thursday, because of a social media post most likely from out of town that stated a threat to a school called “SHS.”
  • * In two separate incidents Wednesday, one involving Armwood High School and the other involving Turkey Creek Middle School, students were arrested on charges that they made threats against their schools. The threats were not credible and neither took steps to carry them out, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies said. Each student faces a felony charge of making a false report involving an explosive or weapon, although no weapons were found. Both were taken to the Hillsborough County Juvenile Assessment Center.
  • * Seffner Elementary School had a brief lockdown over a threat from a student which, like the others, turned out not to be true. The matter was handled administratively, meaning without involving law enforcement. Yes, this was the same school that had a scare Friday about a possible weapon in a backpack.
  • * A 16-year-old student was arrested Tuesday on charges he made a threat against Robinson High School if a teacher did not give him a higher grade.
  • * A 15-year-old student made a threat at Middleton High School and was also arrested. The 15-year-old had been suspended from school.
  • * Tomlin Middle School had a heightened police presence because of a Snapchat threat over the weekend, which also turned out to be unfounded. Despite that, some parents kept their children home, according to the Plant City Observer.

School district officials are encouraging students and parents to report any suspicious behavior or statements to their schools or to the district's security office at (813) 623-3996, and not to spread it on social media.

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