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Seminole Middle tightens security amid racial tension

School officials say there have been rumors, but no violence. They just want to be prepared.


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2000

SEMINOLE -- Seminole Middle School will tighten security today in response to rumors of students bringing weapons to campus. The move comes after several days of racial tension at the school, administrators said.

A letter was sent home with students Thursday, telling parents about the extra security measures to be put in place today. A police K-9 unit will be at the school this morning, and extra school resource officers will be on hand, said Pinellas schools spokesman Ron Stone.

Since Tuesday, tension between some black and white Seminole Middle students has led to arguments but no physical fighting, Stone said. School officials have spoken to several students about their behavior.

Thursday morning, a black female student found a handwritten note jammed into her locker. It contained racial slurs and obscenities, but no threats of violence. She gave it to a teacher, who turned it over to the principal.

Rumors circulated Thursday that someone was going to blow up the school today, Stone said.

"They can't pinpoint it. It's all rumors," Stone said.

"They're even trying to check the handwriting," he said, referring to the note the student got.

Stone said school officials don't expect trouble but want to be cautious and reassure parents that the campus is safe. He said school officials did not know what precipitated this week's tension.

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