Cedar Ridge High School senior Dylan George was recently arrested by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for communicating a threat of mass violence on educational property.
George sent a text message to a classmate saying there was going to be a school shooting at Cedar Ridge, according to a press release by the Orange County Sheriff's Office. The classmate’s parents immediately called 911.
“I am grateful the student and the student’s parent treated the matter with the appropriate level of alarm,” Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood said in the release. “Because of their concern for others, we were able to work with the school to bring this matter to resolution in very short period of time.”
George was charged with a Class H felony and placed under a secured bond of $75,000. Anna Orr, assistant district attorney for Orange and Chatham counties, said in George’s court appearance on Oct. 28 that his bond was reduced to $19,500 due to Orange County bond guidelines.
This is not the first school safety threat Cedar Ridge has dealt with. In May 2019, the school was targeted with complaints from parents when previous principal Intisar Hamidullah and the school’s resource officers failed to report several school shooting threats.
A statement from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office obtained by Indy said bathroom graffiti was discovered with the words “I’m shooting up this hell!! Get Ready.” The statement said multiple instances of graffiti were found and covered up by the school before it was reported to district officials.
“That (graffiti) was back in the spring and unrelated to this incident,” Alicia Stemper, director of public information and special services for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, said in an email.
Hamidullah has since been transferred from Cedar Ridge and the school is now under the leadership of interim Principal Mitchell Stensland.
Randy Bridges, interim superintendent for Orange County Schools, said he believed the school staff and the sheriff's office handled this recent school safety threat well.
“It was an excellent example of the partnership between the Sheriff’s department and our school system working toward a common goal… keeping our students and employees safe,” he said in an email.
Bridges said the Orange County Schools system is not taking the situation of school safety lightly. He said the district recently shared its safety plan for all Orange County schools with the Board of Education, but this plan is not available to the public.
“We have safe schools and are committed to making them even safer,” he said.
Bridges said the district wants to begin to prioritize mental health among its students. He said the board of education is aware of increased concern regarding the mental health of high school students and adults across the country. He said the board believes additional counselors, school psychologists and other health professionals are needed across the district.
“We can’t put all these positions in place at one time, but we are committed to gradually add staff as funding will allow,” Bridges said.
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