Education

9th-grader fell 1 point short on test, then threatened to shoot up school, police say

Pembroke Pines police arrested a 14-year-old student at Somerset Academy High charter school in West Broward on Tuesday after police say he threatened to shoot up the school if they didn't curve his score on a test he failed by one point.
Pembroke Pines police arrested a 14-year-old student at Somerset Academy High charter school in West Broward on Tuesday after police say he threatened to shoot up the school if they didn't curve his score on a test he failed by one point. Miami Herald file / 2007

A 14-year-old student was arrested Tuesday after police say he threatened to shoot up his school if it didn't curve his failed test.

Pembroke Pines police say the boy, a freshman at Somerset Academy High, walked into a teacher's classroom to check his score on the Post Education Readiness Test, known as the PERT. The test is often administered as an alternative to students who don't pass the Algebra I End of Course exam, which is required for graduation.

When the student was told he missed the passing score by one point, he said, "They better curve the score or I'll shoot up the school!" according to a police report.

The student allegedly added, "I'm gonna go beat up people in the office!"

The Miami Herald is withholding the suspect's name because he is a minor.

This is the fourth student arrested in South Florida on charges of making a school threat in the past week.

A 15-year-old at Franklin Academy, another Pembroke Pines charter school, was arrested after police say he pointed out students who were on "his list" for a school shooting. In Miami-Dade, a Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High student was arrested Friday for allegedly making a hoax threat and a Coral Gables Senior High student was arrested Tuesday after police say the student made threats posing as a classmate.

The Somerset Academy teacher told police she was frightened by the student's comments as she didn't have the boy as her student and didn't know his true intentions.

According to the report, the student admitted to police and Principal Bernardo Montero that he had made those statements, but didn't mean it. The student told them that he only became angry because he felt that he would be a disappointment to his family, according to the report.

Lynn Norman-Teck, the executive director of the Florida Charter School Alliance, which represents Somerset Academy, said the incident was immediately reported to administration and turned over to authorities. She said the school conducted an internal investigation and found the threat to be non-credible.

Reached by phone, the father of the student called the incident "a stupid thing" and claimed the report was falsified to "make it sound bad."

The father said his son was upset because if he passed the test, he wouldn't have to stay for summer school. He said his son talks fast and told the teacher that he would sue the school, not shoot up the school.

"There was no threat at all, it was just a stupid misunderstanding," the father said.

Norman-Teck said the father had said his son said "sue," but she said Montero specifically asked the boy why he would say "shoot." As punishment, she said the boy received a one-day indoor suspension, the appropriate consequence for a low-level offense according to the Broward County school district's discipline matrix.

According to the police report, the father was described as uncooperative.

The report states that Montero, the school's principal, wished to press charges against the student. He was arrested at the school, located at 20805 Johnson Street in Pembroke Pines, and taken to the Broward Sheriff's Office Juvenile Assessment Center.

The student faces a charge of making a false threat about planting a bomb, explosive or weapon of mass destruction, a second-degree felony, and conspiring to disrupt the education process, a second-degree misdemeanor.



Colleen Wright can be reached at 305-376-2029 and @Colleen_Wright.
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