Employees and parents desperate for a solution spoke out at a Florida school board meeting Thursday as violent and unruly conditions have sparked an exodus of staff “en masse.”
With so much focus placed on Marxist ideologies infiltrating school curriculum, an often overlooked aspect of the culture war has been the degradation of discipline and the dwindling of respect needed to maintain a civil society. In Florida’s Brevard County School District, the state’s 10th-largest, student behavior has grown so out of control that even the sheriff has had to address a need to crackdown.
During a special school board meeting Thursday that lasted more than seven hours, parents, teachers, staff and representatives for the district addressed concerns that had driven 42 teachers and eight bus drivers to quit in the past two years.
“On an everyday basis I am deflecting being attacked, scratched, headbutted, pushed, hit,” Alicia Kelderhouse, an instructional assistant at Merritt Island High School explained. “I’ve had my hair pulled, and pulled down to the ground. I’ve had my throat gone for on multiple occasions. It’s on an everyday basis right now.”
Those were only some of the claims that were leveled during the meeting as Brevard Federation of Teachers president Anthony Colucci read from a list of incidents that included, “Incident five, a student attacked three teachers today. Incident six, a kid bit her on Friday. The bite mark on her arm is the size of an orange.”
“I have students who are afraid every day in the classroom. It’s just not fair to them,” Kelderhouse went on. “That’s what hurts my heart the most.”
Other incidents described at the meeting included an occurrence of a student masturbating in a classroom while another recorded it and posted the video online and a teacher having to remove all of the furniture from her classroom because students throw it at each other, with much of the problem being blamed on students’ addiction to their cell phones.
The meeting followed the release of a video from famed Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey who was joined by Brevard County School Board Chair Matt Susin outside the local jail to address the need to implement “the most prolific school discipline policy we’ve ever had.”
Ivey made mention of the need to protect classrooms not only “from active shooters…but also from the clowns who continually disrupt our classrooms, our assemblies, with their bad behaviors. Violent acts that we’re seeing on campuses, there’re cell phones in the classroom, all of these things are disruptive to our classes,” he continued, concluding, “As a result, we are losing teachers en masse.”
A representative from the local NAACP who attended the meeting did not take kindly to Ivey’s words as he said, “Our children are not clowns. They are not snot-nosed.”
Meanwhile, another parent seemed to miss the root causes of the issue as they said, “I would feel more comfortable about the discipline policy if I knew diversity was appreciated in this area. And I don’t feel it. My fear is that the practices are inconsistent when I hear about the disparities.”
However, as one parent said, “If you are throwing a chair in a classroom, you do not belong there. I’m sorry. If you can’t behave, that’s not my child’s fault. My child’s education should not be hindered because that child doesn’t know how to behave. And by that child I don’t mean black, white, Hispanic or any other thing. I mean the child who wasn’t taught how to behave.”
According to one teacher, the students were already on a downward trajectory behaviorally but the response to COVID had only made matters worse, “The pandemic was an accelerant to a fire that was already raging.”
The meeting sought to begin a conversation on how to address the problems with more plans for the future. Sandy Edwards of Bayside High School expressed how different teachers have coped with the discipline problems in meantime, “At times we have to call someone to our room so that we can go have a little mini-breakdown in the bathroom. Others just drop off their keys and their badges at the front office on their way out the door, never to be seen again.”
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