Fort Myers News-Press | By Nikki Ross | September 15, 2022
After at least two incidents of weapons found on campuses and a school shooting threat, Lee County School District Superintendent Christopher Bernier reached out to parents via voicemail and email Wednesday evening.
In his messages, Bernier asked parents for their help by sitting down and speaking with their children about appropriate behavior both online and in school. He also asked parents to make sure their student knows the consequences of their behaviors and their responsibility to keep learning environments safe.
“Our community priority is the safety, security and education of our students,” Bernier said in his email. “During the past few days, there has been an increase in incidents involving threats made by, and against our students.”
Lehigh Middle School weapon on campus
On Wednesday parents of students enrolled at Lehigh Acres Middle School received two emails from Principal Brian Gibson alerting them a 12-year-old female student displayed a weapon in the school cafeteria and threatened another student. School administrators immediately intervened and all students were safe.
A statement from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said the student was arrested by its Youth Services Division.
“This incident was isolated, and at this time there is no threat to any other students or faculty,” according to the statement. “The investigation remains active. We will provide updates as information becomes available.”
Gibson said he will update parents when the investigation is complete.
“This type of behavior is not tolerated at Lehigh Acres Middle School, so on top of the legal consequences the student involved will also be disciplined per the Student Code of Conduct,” Gibson’s email said.
South Fort Myers High weapon on campus
The first incident of a weapon on campus this school year occurred on Aug. 13, when a South Fort Myers High School student was arrested after a tip alerted authorities he might have a gun in his car on campus.
A loaded 9mm handgun was found under the driver’s seat of the student’s vehicle during a search conducted by school administrators and Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputies. Authorities determined the gun was stolen during a burglary in July in Lehigh Acres.
Bernier said the behavior exhibited in both instances will not be tolerated.
“Students involved in this type of action will be disciplined at a school level, but may face serious legal consequences as well,” Bernier said in his email. “Some of these consequences may follow a child into adulthood, impacting their college, career and future.”
He went on to say if a student sees something they must say something.
“Safety in our community is a responsibility of everyone.” Bernier said in his email. “As a member of our school and larger community, everyone has a moral responsibility to ensure the safety of all. Our staff and School Resource Officers are prepared to support any student who comes forward and protect the information that they provide.”