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‘Perceived threats’ lead to increased security, student removal from IRC middle school

News'Perceived threats' lead to increased security, student removal from IRC middle school

A student was removed and security increased at a middle school following what law enforcement and school officials said were reports of a perceived threat emerging from escalating miscommunication among students.

For some part of the school day Tuesday several deputies were assigned to Storm Grove Middle School amid an investigation into concerns of threats that were ultimately deemed “unfounded,” according to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office.

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Miscommunication: The threat arose from what a district spokesperson said was a “game of telephone-style miscommunication” that spread among students late last week. It prompted school officials to remove one student who would “receive consequence aligned with the code of student conduct,” said Cristen Maddux, spokesperson for the School District of Indian River County.

Back to normal: The exact nature of what authorities described as a “perceived threat” was unknown, but a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said there was no reference to a weapon or explosive device of any kind.

“It was a perceived threat – somebody interpreted it as a threat,” said Sgt. Kevin Jaworski. “…Until they determine if a threat is unfounded or not, we’ll always use the abundance of caution and deploy more manpower to that school. Now they’re back to normal.”

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The process: The threats were reported to school officials and law enforcement through tips submitted through the school security state-operated app, FortifyFL, created in the wake of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Both school and law enforcement officials said it was one method encouraged for parents and students to communicate concerns.

“If it’s ever questionable, (reporting concerns) is what’s always encouraged,” Jaworski said. “The process worked great.”

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