Are local schools still under-reporting student misconduct?

One member of a local watchdog organization that is monitoring the local government schools says she has uncovered information indicating the school district may still be trying to dodge reporting school safety problems accurately.

A statewide grand jury recently singled out the district for falsifying its numbers. School officials subsequently said they now provide accurate reporting. However, according to Maleana Gay of County Citizens Defending Freedom the training of teachers goes on.

She spoke to a teacher who said teachers now are sent to training sessions on how to report school incidents.

The teacher said they are instructed by the administration not to write referrals for students. Instead, they are to send the student to another classroom temporarily, attempt to contact the parent or refer the student to RTI, (Response to Intervention program, which has been renamed Positive Behavior Intervention Support.)

The program appears to be a mental health evaluation where they try to determine or diagnose a student with a behavioral or mental disorder, Gay said. There are no consequences for attending the program. The student meets with a counselor and returns to class, and the students enjoy going because they get candy.

Gay also has uncovered warning signs that appeared years ago. News media reported in 2016 that a former school police officer said it was common to declare a disruptive student had a possible mental problem to avoid reporting him to the police.

The officer said the police were using the state’s Baker Act to avoid an arrest.

The superintendent at that time said. “Baker Acting a student is not an alternative nor is it always associated with an arrest; it is a medical intervention that is initiated based on a specific criteria (cq) evaluated by either a law enforcement officer or a licensed mental health professional.”

Eye on Jacksonville reported years ago, Jacksonville’s numbers seemed suspect. On May 26, 2019, Eye had noted that the local district led the state in doing little about crime in schools, although it had one of the highest rates: “Of 9,739 incidents that occurred in the previous school year, only 838 were reported to law enforcement,” Eye said.

In the last published report, for 2020-21, Duval claimed it had 3,287 total incidents and reported 1,051 to the police (32 percent).

It reported only 42 cases of bullying — although the district has claimed that it needs to instruct young children about “gender transitioning” to provide “gender affirming care” that is needed because of bullying.

Statewide, districts listed bullying as 3 percent of their total incidents. In Duval, it was 1 percent. And the district has not been able to identify any cases of bullying students in “transition.”

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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