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New Duval Schools Code of Conduct Cracks Down On Student Violence

Grand Park exterior
Duval County Schools

In three weeks, Duval County students will start a new school year, and they’ll also have new consequences if they misbehave at school.

On Tuesday evening, the Duval County School Board approved changes to the district’s Code of Conduct.

For two years, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti has placed an emphasis on alternatives to out-of-school suspensions. Instead students were given in-school suspensions, mediated group discussion and behavioral contracts.  

“Not only are you seeing a reduction in the use of outdoor suspension, but the total amount of offenders within the student population is decreasing," he said Tuesday.

Vitti says these practices will continue. But some parents and teachers are complaining kids are getting away with too much. Vitti assured them, under the new code of conduct, violence will not be tolerated.

“Basically if a student is involved in any level of a fight three times, they will be referred to an alternative school," he said. "That is significantly different than last year’s Code of Conduct.”

And the alternative school system has been redesigned.  Mattie V alternative middle school will now teach kids as young as fourth grade. Meanwhile, Grand Park will allow students in grade 9 and up. Grand Park will be where the most aggressive offenders end up.  

Also new this school year: Schools will keep running scores of students’ behavior.

Vitti explains, “Once students conduct themselves in a negative way, through multiple infractions, there’s a corresponding rubric with points."

Once a student accumulates 12 points, that automatically refers him to the hearing office for placement in an alternative school.

Initiating a fight is worth three points, possession of alcohol: two, drug paraphernalia: one.

Also included in the revised Code of Conduct are a definition of gang activity; greater consequences for toy guns and knives; and a clearer explanation of what teachers’ rights are when students misbehave.

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.