Duval County OKs ‘Self Defense,’ But Not Fighting Back, In School

Aug 5, 2015

A fight breaks out between two students at First Coast High School in 2011.
Credit gunja / YouTube

Duval County School Board members are split about what should be considered self defense when it comes to fighting in schools.

The board approved the new language at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Among the changes in next year’s Code of Conduct is how students are allowed to react when fights break out at school. Duval Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says now students won’t get in trouble if they defend themselves during an attack.

Vitti said, “We defined self defense in this year’s Code of Conduct and removed consequences associated with self defense, meaning if a student reacts to a physical attack under the definition of self defense then they would not have consequences levied against them.”

The code defines “self defense” as blocking or shielding yourself from an attack, but not necessarily fighting back.

But School Board member Jason Fischer says students should also be able to use reasonable defensive force to stop the attacker.

Fischer said, “So the point is this does not support retaliation or vengeance or someone to seek individual justice. There’s still a system in process, but it protects them in their ability to protect themselves.”

Fisher introduced his “reasonable defensive force” amendment Tuesday, but the board struck it down on a vote of 3-4.