PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Bay District Schools have been back in session for about a week and some students have already gotten themselves into major trouble.
Threats of violence, drug use, and weapons have popped up on multiple campuses, causing the school district and Bay County Sheriff’s Office to quickly respond.
“Sadly, I’ve already had to recommend expulsion of two children because of the threats,” said Bay District Schools Superintendent Mark McQueen. “I’m just not going to accept that type of behavior in the Bay District School system.”
Some students were caught with drugs, vapes, alcohol, and fake weapons on campus. Others have made violent threats against their schools and the people in them. Bay County officials will not tolerate this behavior and aren’t afraid to issue severe consequences.
“If criminal charges are appropriate, we do charge them with that, which is a serious felony that follows them for the rest of their lives,” said Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford. “We don’t want that to happen to any kid, but we cannot tolerate threats in the schools. We have a zero-tolerance approach to that, zero-tolerance on weapons in the schools, and that includes fake weapons.”
It is unclear why this behavior is already happening, but officials are encouraging parents to be involved in their children’s lives to prevent this inappropriate and dangerous behavior from continuing. They should know what’s in their child’s possession before they step on school property.
“I’m expecting parents to get engaged with their students and know what’s going on with those students,” said McQueen. “There’s nothing wrong with a parent looking around in the kid’s room, their backpack, and their car to see if they’ve got vape pens or drugs or weapons and then holding them accountable for that,” added Ford.
Students can submit anonymous tips to Fortify Florida if they see or hear of any suspicious or illegal activities in their schools. They should also talk to a trusted adult such as a teacher or parent.