The Sheriff’s Office is waiting on a forensic analysis of the boys' computers.
The six boys removed from Flagler Palm Coast High School Sept. 7 in connection with what officials at the time called a “detailed plan to conduct a coordinated plot” against the school are still barred from campus, but no charges have been leveled against any of them.
The School District says it’s waiting for the Sheriff’s Office to give it the go-ahead to let the teens back into school, and said so to one of the boys’ attorneys, Joshua Davis. Davis then spoke to an investigator at the Sheriff’s Office, who said it was the school district’s decision whether to let the kids back in or not, Davis said.
“My kid … is an honor student and a football player, and he missed out on homecoming and football and everything else in the world, and we’re still in la-la land, stuck between agencies,” Davis said. “I understand the school’s concern about that type of a situation. But at some point, I would hope that they would either decide that whatever needs to happen, happens; or let the kid back in school. But being stuck in limbo here is frustrating.”
A Sheriff’s Office spokesman reached by a reporter Nov. 15 said he’d thought the boys had all returned to school.
School Board Attorney Kristy Gavin confirmed that they had not, saying that was the Sheriff’s Office’s decision. In the meantime, Gavin said, the boys are doing coursework through online programs like iFlagler and Florida Virtual School, and are not being penalized for missed class time.
Later, after checking with investigators, spokesman Director Jim Troiano said that it seemed there had been “a little bit of confusion” between the Sheriff’s Office and the school district. He explained that the Sheriff’s Office is still investigating, and the investigation could “still take a couple of weeks yet” before it’s finished. The boys’ computers have been turned over to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office for forensic analysis, Troiano said, and in computer forensic analysis, “there are backlogs everywhere.”
But, he said, whether or not to let the boys return to school in the meantime is a School District matter, not a Sheriff’s Office matter.
Meanwhile, Davis said, the teens have been out of school without charges for more than two months. He can’t get discovery on the case because there haven’t been charges leveled yet.
Davis explained the outline of the case as he understood it: There had been a chain of online chats, and one of the kids involved in the chat drew a map of how to attack the school, “and assigned the different kids what they would do in different places, and attack.”
“From what I’ve heard, it was a bunch of kids doing dumb stuff,” he said. “It wasn’t taken that way, understandably.”
The Sheriff’s Office appeared to have been viewing the case similarly just a day after the incident.
“This really sounds like students who were goofing around, but we are being very thorough and making sure that there’s not a serious threat,” Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Laura Williams had said on Sept. 8.
There were six boys logged into the chat chain, Davis said, but not all were actually involved in the discussion.
“But because they were on the string, they went ahead and I guess suspended everyone,” he said. “From my understanding, that was one kid who did all of that, and got the map of the school.”
The two-month period the teens have been out of school has made them miss a great deal, he said.
“To us, it’s two months,” Davis said. “For a 15-year-old, it’s like dealing with dog years, missing homecoming and growing up. It’s like their entire life.”
Brian McMillan contributed to this report.