Jefferson Somerset students evacuated
According to Florida Statutes, bomb threats and false reports that are intended to mislead, deceive and misinform are classified as felony offenses. As such this is currently an active and ongoing case that is being investigated by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Anyone with information pertaining to these two threats is requested to contact the JCSO at (850) 997-2523.
Ashley Hunter, ECB Publishing, Inc.
At around 8:15 a.m. on Tuesday, November 13, Jefferson Somerset received the first of two calls left by an anonymous individual, which contained threats of harm to the school by use of a bomb.
“We made sure all the kids were, first, safe before we made any notifications. I understand that that isn’t necessarily what sets parents at ease, but in a crisis situation, you must first get the kids safe - that’s very important to us,” said Jefferson Somerset Principal Cory Oliver.
Students were evacuated by bus to an alternative location, and from there, parents were called to come and pick up their child.
The students who remained at the location were fed lunch, and ultimately bussed back to Jefferson Somerset following the ‘all-clear’ issued by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
While the threat proved to be baseless, none of the staff at Jefferson Somerset or the deputies at JCSO took the situation lightly.
“Our staff did what they were supposed to do; we worked together as a team,” said Principal
See BOMB THREAT page 3
Oliver, while recognizing the teachers and school employees who worked quickly and efficiently to get the children in their care away from the threat of harm.
It wasn’t just the staff members who played a part in Jefferson Somerset’s quick evacuation following the bomb threat, but also the students.
“I had stories come back to me of the kids themselves. I had several teachers talk about how
the older kids were taking care of the younger kids, making sure everything went down the way it was supposed to,” said Oliver.
While this bomb threat proved, ultimately, mostly harmless, Principal Oliver did note that the school was well prepared to deal with the handling of the threat thanks to the security plans and procedures put in place.
Earlier this year, Jefferson Somerset’s leadership staff met with law enforcement from Jefferson and Leon Counties to piece together a security plan and identify potential security issues.
Thanks to those pre-established efforts, the school was equipped to handle Tuesday’s bomb threat call in a way that protected students and staff.
“Sometimes, things happen that are beyond our control,” said Principal Oliver, adding: “In the modern world, you have to have safety plans, and you have to have things you go to if the safety plan collapses for any reason.”
While no students were harmed, the effects felt by that morning’s bomb threat was hardly void.
“We lost a day of instruction, and we can’t afford that - especially for a prank,” said Principal Oliver.
According to Jefferson County Sheriff Mac McNeill, the JCSO takes the action very seriously, despite the call being a ‘prank’.
“We want to put an end to situations like this,” said Sheriff McNeill to ECB Publishing, Inc.
While no physical harm was suffered by anyone at Jefferson Somerset that morning, Sheriff McNeill adds that the JCSO always errs on the side of caution when faced with these situations.
After receiving the call from Jefferson Somerset, advising the JCSO of the bomb threat, deputies searched the school campus and buildings both before and after the caller advised that the bomb would go off.
“We found no suspicious items,” adds Sheriff McNeill.
After the JCSO completed a thorough search of Jefferson Somerset, the students were bussed back to the school, and instructors were tasked with trying to piece together something similar to a familiar school day for the shaken students.
Then, on Thursday, November 15, a second call was received with threats of harm towards the school. JCSO and assisting agencies again responded, searched the school and issued an all-clear when no bomb was found. Following the threat, students and staff were moved to a safe location in the school.
“Thankfully, nothing happened. We didn’t have any real incidents,” said Principal Oliver. “That’s the most important thing, that the kids were safe.”