MIAMI – A 37-year-old father in Miami-Dade Couty could face time in prison over an alleged threat he made in a text message to “burn” his son’s Jewish private school.
Mark Polyakov said the use of the word “burn” was taken out of context. He said a picture showing his four-year-old son was wearing a face mask at Scheck Hillel Community School’s athletic field enraged him.
Polyakov said the school’s face mask policy prompted him to vent his frustrations on a “No More Masks Hillel” text thread that other parents had set up. One of the members reported his messages.
“I legally said I want to burn the school in the sense of filing a lawsuit and hiring an attorney,” Polyakov said, adding he had no intention to commit actual arson when he wrote, ”I have my attorney preparing legal documents.”
Officers arrested him on Monday night on a written threats charge. The school expelled his son and revoked his access to the school. He was out on bond when he sat next to his defense attorney, Mark Eiglarsh, on Thursday and said his words were taken out of context.
The text Polyakov wrote on Feb. 8: “We will leave and burn Hillel down to the ground that’s why rankings here have steadily gone down!”
The text he wrote on Feb. 10: “I just got kicked out of Hillel. I will burn this school down.”
“I regret the words that I used … I regret using those words absolutely but I don’t regret going after the school legally,” Polyakov said on Thursday.
Prosecutors filed the case on Feb. 15 and Polyakov pled not guilty and demanded a trial by jury. Eiglarsh said it’s all just a big misunderstanding.
“That is a reasonable inference that he wants to burn them and sue them legally,” Eiglarsh said.
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Richard Hersch has the case and his next hearing is on March 14. According to Florida’s sentencing guidelines, if found guilty Polyakov could face 15 years in prison or 15 years of probation and a $10,000 fine.
4:30 p.m. report