Bring Back John Held
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On November 15th Windermere High School went on a Code Red Lockdown for a shooting threat that was sent via WhatsApp according to the news. On November 17th which was a Friday the same day West Orange High School was placed on lockdown I was called into the office where 4 detectives were there and questioned me because of the incident. My name was implicated as a possible participant. I talked to the police and explained to them that I wasn’t responsible. They then believed me but encouraged me to report any activity that might be occurring or the possible suspect. So, I started to look into the incident. I found a possible suspect and then on Sunday, November 19 I woke up and saw that an Instagram account had followed me. The username was in Latin. When I translated the username, it stood for “all I want is death”, following that I emailed the detectives all that I knew and have discovered including the Instagram account which included what I perceived as threats. Since I believed that it was an urgent matter I also contacted the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Non-Emergency Line. I did not call the school as they are closed on Sunday. I explained to the Sheriff's office the threat and they told me to call the detectives first thing in the morning because they felt that contacting the detective would be the best solution. Because they told me this I felt it wasn’t given enough urgency, so I took screenshots of all the post and I posted it on my Snapchat story. I did not state that they were threats, nor did I implicate anyone as that could be considered defamation. After that, I attempted to contact all the individuals and told them that there was what I perceive as a threat made against them. Following that, I went to school on Monday, November 20th and told school officials before 7:15 AM that I believe that there was a threat. I wrote a police report and cooperated fully with the law enforcement and school officials. Today Thursday, November 30th I was called into the office because “they needed to investigate on their own end for the district” so I sent them the same email I sent to the police and told them exactly what I told police. Then they put me into in-school suspension until 6th period then in 6th period they called me into the discipline office and told me that I was being recommended for expulsion for “inciting a threat made to the school by posting information on social media which caused a major disruption” I explained to them that I could not notify them on Sunday, November 19th and they basically with all due respect told me they don’t care. They showed me the disciplinary referral and gave me a 10 day out of school suspension and then an Expulsion meeting. They then asked me if there any witnesses that they would like me to call. I replied, “the Orange County Sheriff’s office,” they told me that they contacted them, but they were unavailable. When I got home I contacted the sheriff's office and they told me that the school has made no attempt to contact them. Even if I’m not formally expelled I’m missing 10 days of school which is depriving me of my ability to learn. How can we live in a society in which students are suspended and threatened with expulsion for reporting possible threats to their life to the police and their friends whose safety is at risk? This is a clear example of the school trying to fix its public relations through information suppression. Things must change. I call for me to be imminently returned to Windermere High School and for my record to be cleared. I also would like a formal apology. Nothing can reverse the damage done but we can make it right. We as a community need to make it clear that students that speak to police and inform the community of possible threats will not face discipline.
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