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Florida sheriff’s video on new student disciplinary measures sparks backlash; he refuses to back down

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A Florida sheriff is standing by his threat of much harsher penalties for student misbehavior that he delivered outside a prison last month.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey hosted a live press conference Nov. 28, announcing a swift and brutal crackdown on student behavioral problems in the county’s public schools.

Claiming to have received extensive reports of dangerous and sometimes violent student misbehavior from teachers, school staff and administrators, Ivey announced his intentions to reform the county’s discipline guidelines.

FLORIDA SHERIFF TAKES STEPS TO IMPROVE TACTICAL GEAR FOR OFFICERS IN SCHOOLS

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey speaks at a press conference Nov. 28
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey speaks at a press conference Nov. 28
(Brevard County Sheriff’s Office)

“Our teachers are distracted. They can’t do their jobs anymore, and they are spending more time dealing with [students] disrupting their class than they are teaching those that actually came there to learn,” Ivey said at his original press conference.

Ivey lamented the decline in harsh punishments in public schools, noting the widespread banning of corporal punishment in particular.

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“Quite frankly, they’re not worried about getting in trouble. They know nothing’s gonna happen to them. They know they’re not going to be given after-school detention, they’re not going to be suspended,” the sheriff claimed. “They’re not going to be expelled or, like in the old days, they’re not gonna have the cheeks of their a– torn off for not doing right in class.”

Ivey was joined at the press conference by State Attorney Phil Archer, Brevard Public School Board Chair Matt Susin, Brevard Police Major Brian Neal and School Service Workers Union Rep. Dolores Varney.

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Parents and residents attended a school board meeting Dec. 8 for discussion about the sheriff’s comments.

Some parents took issue with the tone and message of the video, voicing concern with the sheriff’s leadership on the issue, according to local outlet Spectrum News 13.

“In front of cold concrete and barbed wire, our families were left with no answers, no plan,” Christine Rowe, a mother of six children, told the gathering, according to the report.

Brevard County Sheriff's Office car

Brevard County Sheriff’s Office car
(Brevard County Sheriff’s Office)

“I said what I meant in that video, and by that, it was simply this: They got to get to these kids before they get to me,” Ivey told Spectrum 13 during a break in the meeting. “I picked that backdrop, because if they don’t get to these kids, that’s where they end up.”

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No official plans for alterations to the discipline guidelines have been formally proposed. 

The sheriff’s office has not issued a public statement on the specific changes it is suggesting.

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