Fla. sheriff vows to crack down on violent students after teachers complain of daily abuse

A Florida sheriff is determined to get misbehaving students in his county under control, and, in the face of parental backlash, he isn’t backing down.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey held a live press conference on November 28, from outside the barbed-wire-covered walls of Brevard County Jail, and declared he intends to reform the county’s discipline guidelines.

The move was prompted by “extensive reports” from teachers, administrators, and school employees of students acting out in dangerous, even violent, ways.

“Our teachers are distracted. They can’t do their jobs anymore, and they are spending more time dealing with [students] disrupting their class than they are teaching those that actually came there to learn,” the sheriff said.

According to Ivey — who was joined by State Attorney Phil Archer, Brevard Public School Board Chair Matt Susin, Brevard Police Major Brian Neal, and School Service Workers Union Rep. Dolores Varney — students no longer fear getting in trouble because the means of disciplining them have gone soft.

“Quite frankly, they’re not worried about getting in trouble,” he said. “They know nothing’s gonna happen to them. They know they’re not going to be given after-school detention, they’re not going to be suspended, they’re not going to be expelled or, like in the old days, they’re not gonna have the cheeks of their a– torn off for not doing right in class.”


(Video: Facebook)

On Friday, parents and residents gathered at a school board meeting to discuss the sheriff’s proposed discipline measures.

Incredibly, much of the public debate appeared to center not on the disturbing reports of students biting, choking, and scratching teachers in the classroom, but on the setting Sheriff Ivey selected to deliver his message, according to Spectrum News 13.

“In front of cold concrete and barbed wire, our families were left with no answers, no plan,” said mother-of-six Christine Rowe.

Meanwhile, according to Brevard School Board Chair Matt Susin, an astounding 42 teachers and eight bus drivers have called it quits over the students’ bad behavior.

“I’ve seen photographs of bus drivers with bites on the back of their neck,” Ivey said. “I’ve seen teachers with broken bones, so that stuff needs to be brought to us.”

As for the location of his original press conference, Ivey defended his choice — and his message.

“I said what I meant in that video, and by that, it was simply this,” Ivey told Spectrum News during a break in the meeting. “They got to get to these kids before they get to me. I picked that backdrop, because if they don’t get to these kids, that’s where they end up.”

In response, the school board is looking to form a disciplinary committee that would report directly to them. Additionally, a zero-tolerance policy aimed at protecting teachers was discussed.

Another meeting is slated for December 13, and, in the interim, the board said it will be meeting with staff. More details are expected at Tuesday’s meeting.

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Melissa Fine

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