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Vitti Responds To Concerns Over First Coast High Violence


Violence was a major topic of conversation at Monday’s Duval School Board meeting. Parents showed up to voice concern about the safety of students at Jacksonville’s First Coast High.

The threat of a school shooting at First Coast High circulated on social media during students’ last week of school. Real violence among the school’s students has made headlines this school year.

At the Duval School Board meeting, more than 40 people showed up to hear or speak about First Coast, although nothing about the school was on the agenda.

Thomas Johnston spoke during the public comments portion. He said he went to First Coast and so have his two kids. He says the school disciplines with slaps on the wrist.

“First Coast High has the potential to be best high school in Northeast Florida,” Johnston said. “It appears it takes an act of Congress to remove a student from a school who has displayed conduct detrimental to a safe learning environment.”

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says that concern is due to loopholes he’s identified in the Code of Conduct. He says those are being worked out now.

“Repeated minor infractions are not necessarily leading to removal from the classroom,” Vitti said. “We also, I think have to be a bit stricter with fighting.”

Although some speakers pointed fingers at the school’s administration, Vitti says he will not be changing leadership at the school.

Dr. Alvin Brennan is principal at First Coast and Vitti says he’s one of the best in the district.

“[Principal Brennan] is a Veteran, a proven leader,” Vitti said.

Vitti says he’s working hard to get Brennan the staff and tools he needs.

Vitti says he’s not surprised so many people came with concerns about school safety and he says he believes rumors paired with real violence in the community have led to this outcry.

“I look forward to translating the disappointment that’s in the First Coast community to action,” Vitti said.

He says he plans to start the action by getting the community and parents together to start a conversation.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.