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Duval Schools shores up procedures after grand jury investigation into school police

A Duval Schools police car parked outside the district's administration building.
Claire Heddles
Jacksonville Today
A Duval Schools police car parked outside the district's administration building.

The Duval County School Board met Thursday to review a recently unsealed grand jury report accusing the district’s former chief of police of failing to report more than 500 student crimes. 

Duval Schools has had its own police force since 2015.  The founding chief of police, Micheal Edwards, resigned after the grand jury report was issued last year. The Florida Supreme Court report was unsealed last week.

School Board member Warren Jones told the board Thursday that there's a historical context that the scathing report doesn’t show.

"There was concern with the school-to prison-pipeline. That's where it started," Jones said. "I'm not justifying what Mike Edwards did, by no stretch of the imagination. But I know the district was under a lot of pressure from a number of sources to not arrest so many of our students for misdemeanors." 

RELATED: Read the grand jury report.

School district attorneys say, since the grand jury investigation, Duval has implemented a policy of filing a report anytime school police are called even if there’s no citation or arrest. 

School Board chair Darryl Willie changes include “reformatting of the student code of conduct," implementing a “monthly validation process to make sure there's no discrepancies” in school police reporting and “scheduling a consultation with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.”

Board members plan to take up the issue again Sept. 21, during their next policy review committee meeting.

The schools’ current chief of police is Greg Burton, the spouse of Democratic Jacksonville sheriff’s candidate, Lakesha Burton.

Jacksonville’s police union has previously called for moving school police under the Sheriff’s Office instead of under district leadership. 

The district says the allegations in the report are tied to policy and leadership — both the former superintendent and chief of police — that are no longer in place.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.