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WATCH REPLAY: Brevard Public Schools Board Chairman Matt Susin made discipline a priority during an emergency meeting on Thursday at the school board headquarters in Viera.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Brevard Public Schools Board Chairman Matt Susin made discipline a priority during an emergency meeting on Thursday at the school board headquarters in Viera.
After 42 teachers and eight bus driver resigned last week, Susin called the emergency meeting to address the numerous discipline issues in Brevard Public Schools. The meeting went seven hours, with a 10 minute break for lunch.
School Board Members Jennifer Jenkins, Megan Wright, Gene Trent and Katye Campbell, along with Sheriff Wayne Ivey, representatives from the Brevard Association of School Administrators, the Brevard Federation of Teachers, IUPAT local 1010 custodians and bus drivers, Cultural Community Connection, BACASTA, NAACP, and Brevard Schools staff, attended the meeting upon Susin’s request.
Susin said there were 31 other school districts watching, with three attending the meeting, including Indian River County, Volusia County and Seminole County.
In the packed meeting room, attendees listened to a host of stories of abuse, physical violence, and complete disrespect that the BPS staff has been enduring.
Gary Shiffrin of BASA, talked about administrator’s hands being tied and not being able to enforce the discipline policy with fidelity. Bus driver Mark Rainey detailed a compelling account, including details of students striking a bus driver in the head with a water bottle.
Each representative spoke about how they had heard or seen firsthand the discipline issues in BPS.
Members from the NAACP called for the use of data to support decision-making policies and Samantha Nazario from the Cultural Community Connections focused on supporting Hispanic students in Brevard.
With 37 public speakers in attendance, the school board didn’t start working on policies until 12:30 pm.
After much discussion about what the root causes of the discipline policies are, the Brevard Federation of Teachers suggested to re-create and enact the discipline committee to make suggestions directly to the board, and Wright called for the banning of all cell phones in Brevard Public Schools.
Delores Varney from 1010 asked the school board to treat the bus as an extension of the classroom and get the referrals back to the bus drivers and begin to suspend children off the bus.
As the time was winding down, Susin, Trent and Wright went into action:
■ First, they passed the enforcement of the zero tolerance policy on physical abuse and violence on Brevard public school staff.
■ Second, they banned all cell phones starting when students return from Christmas break.
■ Third, they sent direction to staff to treat the bus as an extension of the classroom and enforce discipline quickly.
■ Fourth, they restarted the discipline policy committee to immediately begin to meet and start making recommendations directly to the school board on what issues they are facing inside the school system.
■ Fifth, they gave direction to staff to increase opportunities for in-service training on particular topics for managing discipline. With many more topics discussed and given direction, Brevard Public Schools is now officially back on track and supporting their BPS staff.
Brevard Public Schools is the 49th largest district in the U.S. and the ninth largest district in Florida. As the largest employer in Brevard County, BPS employs approximately 9,300 staff members serving over 73,000 students.
With 83 schools, 10 special centers, and 12 charter schools, the district educates its students in 17 different municipalities across the Space Coast.
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