Since being singled out for criticism by a statewide grand jury, Duval County’s school district has brought its figures related to serious school incidents in line with the rest of the state.
Duval ranked behind comparable-sized Hillsborough, Broward and Palm Beach counties in the total number of school incidents reported in 2022. It ranked just ahead of Dade County, which probably means Dade’s huge school district fudged its numbers.
The types of incidents reported to the state include robbery, burglary, fighting, sexual assault, drug possession and weapons possession.
Duval reported 6,223 incidents in all last year, with 2,118 being serious enough to report to the police.
Among the district’s schools, Lake Shore Middle School led the list with 241 incidents. It was followed in order by Peterson Academies, First Coast High School, Terry Parker High School and Mandarin High School.
Eye reported as long ago as April 2019 that Duval had the highest number of total incidents in the state and noted: “Another data point of concern is that in 2016 Duval County Public Schools had the lowest rate in the state for reporting fights to the police.”
In an effort to make the system look better, the local school police department, which is a separate agency from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, misreported incidents in the schools. The grand jury blamed the head of the police force, who resigned and was not charged with breaking the law.
However, the police force remains separate from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, which policed the schools until a few years ago. With a new School Board makeup and a new superintendent soon to be selected, that anomaly could change.