Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First Coast Parents Told of Changes; Vitti Proposes Several Measures Aimed at Improving the Troubled High School

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First Coast Parents Told of Changes; Vitti Proposes Several Measures Aimed at Improving the Troubled High School

Article excerpt

Byline: Denise Smith Amos & Rhema Thompson

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told First Coast High parents and community members that he does not plan to change the principal at the troubled school, but he will set up a successor for when Principal Alvin Brennan retires in two years.

Vitti listed a series of proposed changes and improvements that he said will address some of the problems at the school, which parents complained has too much violence, misbehavior and safety issues as well as a loss of some high-quality teachers and programs.

Vitti said the board will consider changing the code of conduct so students who repeatedly fight or cause serious disruptions get sent to an alternative school instead of a lighter punishment. He also said the district will assign a school resource officer to the school all day, instead of splitting his time at a middle school, and he will hire more staff including another guidance counselor, social worker, truancy officer and a graduation coach.

He said the school will repair its broken security cameras and buy more of them to cover "blind spots," as well as change the locks on the office with the cameras so students can't get in.

He plans to appoint one of the assistant principals to become a "parent liaison" and will choose one to groom to be Brennan's successor. He promised to set up groups of teachers, some to advise Brennan on potential improvements and others to monitor the behavior referral system to make sure behavior problems are taken care of.

Vitti said he expects the district will begin a series of community discussions about changing boundaries that would affect Ribault High School, possibly in the 2016-17 school year.

The audience was more receptive and less upset than the one at last week's meeting, where some parents accused Brennan of not heeding complaints about safety issues, unsupervised students, low teacher morale and high teacher turnover. …

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