M-DCPS launches ‘It’s No Joke’ campaign amid string of online threats

MIAMI (WSVN) - School officials in Miami-Dade County have announced a new campaign geared toward stopping future online threats.

Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho held a press conference Tuesday where he sent a stern message to students.

“It is unfair. It is irresponsible, and unfortunately, it brings long term consequences to the individuals who make these threats,” he said. “Don’t do it. You are putting your future in peril.”

The district, in collaboration with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, launched the “It’s No Joke” campaign Tuesday.

“Whether it is a joke, a prank or a hoax,” he continued, “we are dedicating the same level of resources to the investigative process. We should not be spending our time doing this. We need to spend our time protecting our kids and teaching our kids.”

School districts across South Florida, including Miami-Dade, have been working to inform students about the serious consequences that come with making online threats.

“It is no joke that making a threat against a school is a felony,” Carvalho said. “It is no joke that making a threat against a school may bring federal and state charges. It is no joke that making a threat against a school may lead to arrest and imprisonment.”

Since the start of the school year, M-DCPS has received 24 threats, six of which have resulted in arrests.

“It creates fear in the community,” Carvalho said. “It robs parents, teachers and students from the peace of mind they deserve while in school. We’ve had experiences where the parents quite frankly express anger at the school system or the police department because we’re investigating what they deem to be a joke, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish here, is the parents need to understand it is not a joke. It is not a joke.”

An eighth grader was taken into custody late September after he allegedly threatened to shoot up minority students at Leewood K-8 in Southwest Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade Police questioned 13-year-old Adam Calvo on Sept. 19, and he was taken into custody sometime after.

On Oct. 1, eighth graders Sebastian Guillot and Thomas Delgado were arrested after police said they made threats on Instagram against Howard D. McMillan Middle School.

Most recently, on Sunday, police said 15-year-old Brandon Fernandez shared on social media that he was going to “attempt a mass murder on Monday, October 7 at G. Holmes Braddock Senior High.”

Police arrested him on felony charges.

Parents have been left feeling anxious.

“It’s actually really scary to know that students are actually making threats like this to other students or to a school, period,” said Yamila Gonzalez, a parent.

Fifty-eight students have been arrested for making threats since the Parkland mass shooting, according to Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

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