The Escambia County Public School District administration and the School Board need to recognize that the goals of improving academic performance and reducing student violence are tied to each other. We can not have good public schools unless both are achieved. Covering up or masking the violence issues will not make the school system better.
1. The School Board must do an independent survey of teachers, parents and students about issues of school violence and personal safety. Has a teacher or student ever felt threatened on campus or while attending a school-sponsored event? Have they seen a crime being committed that went unreported to law enforcement? Has a teacher been discouraged by school officials from completing a referral? Discrepancies in the SESIR, Law Enforcement reports and the Department of Juvenile Justice reports must be analyzed and explained. We have to get an accurate picture of where each school stands in regard to school safety. Somehow we have to take the politicians out of the process. That data needs to be published.
2. The School District needs to bring back the core set of values that emulate what Vice Adm. Jack Fetterman did for the U.S. Navy. Students and staff must be held to a common set of behavioral standards. Violence, disrespect and harassment can not be tolerated. No principal or district official is above those core values
3. Parents, teachers and students must have an environment that lets them report violence and crime without fear of retribution from their peers or the administration.
4. We should have the expectation that every child can achieve academically and has the right to a quality education and a safe learning environment, regardless of race, socio-economics or which school they attend.
5. The District must provide swift, consistent consequences for student misbehavior. Involve parents, law enforcement and the Alternative Justice teams in those consequences. Teachers should not be punished for the misbehavior of their students, unless it’s proven that there are class management issues.
6. The schools must be given the resources for the students with more chronic behavioral problems. Involve parents, law enforcement, Dept. of Children & Families Services, outside clinicians and other community agencies. We shouldn’t warehouse students to collect the FTE dollars from the state.