NORTH MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – The parent of a Scheck Hillel Community School student caused his son to be expelled and is facing serious charges after being accused of texting a group of parents that he wanted to burn down the school over mask policy, according to police.
Authorities said Mark Polyakov, 37, made the remarks on February 8 during a text thread involving other parents at the school.
The comments were made in a chat titled, “No more masks hillel.”
Polyakov is accused of making the following threat: “You should of told that board member go (expletive) yourself we will leave and burn hillel down to the ground that’s why there rankings have steadily gone down! What’s his name? This board member”
Police said that later, Polyakov posted a picture of the school, along with the following: “I want to burn this school to the (expletive) ground’ This is what they are doing outside forcing (expletive) masks 80 degrees. You cant be nice gets you no where.”
As a result of this post, Poliakov’s son was expelled from the school.
Police said that on February 10, in the same chat group, Polyakov texted, “I just got kicked out of hillel” “I will burn this school down.”
Polyakov was arrested at his residence on February 14.
He faces one count of writing threats to kill or do bodily injury. That can have serious consequences. The maximum penalty can be up to 15 years in prison, 15 years probation and $10,000 in fines.
“We know the guy personally. He’s not dangerous. He has a four-year-old kid,” a parent said.
Even though she didn’t want to give her name, this parent said she was also on that group chat, which she said included about 70 people.
“He didn’t mean it in a direct way. He would never,” she continued. “Everyone who started the chat loves this school, but is just frustrated our children are suffering with these masks.”
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The school implemented indoor and outdoor masking at the start of the semester due to Omicron.
“I think a lot of people are very unhappy about the mask policy,” another parent said. “Other schools have started to remove the mask policy.”
Miami-Dade and Broward Public Schools made masks optional on February 14th. Scheck Hillel Community School is private.
Rachel Slelatt, the mother of a 5th grader, told CBS4, “I think this is very serious. I think Hillel was right to report it to the police and I hope it is taken care of. I am sorry but this is well taken care of. Obviously this is a concern because are kids are there in school and anything can happen but there is good security. I think people are very heated up about masks and COVID and all those issues that are bubbling up and so I am not surprised.”
Hedy Whitebook, who has three grandchildren at the school, said, “It is a shame that it has come to this. The school sets policy and this is a private school. They have the right to set policy. We are expected as parents and grandparents to follow that policy and follow the proper channels even if we disagree with the policy. This is very scary but the school security properly handled this.”
Judit Groisman, who has grandchildren at the school, said “It is a disgrace. You can do anything to jeopardize children no matter what problems you have.”
On Tuesday, Craig Carpentieri, Scheck Hillel Community School’s Interim Head of School released the following statement:
“We want the community to know what we value here at Scheck Hillel Community School: Our sacred responsibility to care for our students, faculty and staff. At Scheck Hillel, our children come first and always will.”
“Our school holds security as a cornerstone of our institution, and we take any threat very seriously and follow all guidelines, including reporting any such threats to the police.”
“We reported a parent’s threat of violence against our school and understand that their investigation has led to an arrest. We are continuing to consult with law enforcement as they carry out their work.”
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“We have zero-tolerance for aggressive or violent language or behavior and are grateful for the assistance of law enforcement and the overwhelming support of our families in our ongoing efforts to keep our children safe.”