After three months of research, a task force charged by the
Duval County School Board with identifying ways to change
student behavior will make its first report Tuesday to the
Mandarin parent Nita McKelvey, who chairs the discipline task
force, said she'll tell board members how the 21 parents,
teachers, students and principals are getting down to the
business of crafting specific recommendations.
"There's a real serious desire by this task force to want to do
something about discipline in this county," McKelvey said.
Task force members met yesterday for six hours to identify the
areas they want to address, then broke off into three committees
to tackle solutions. Among the issues they'll address:
Revising the student code of conduct. Several members said the
code isn't being consistently enforced, particularly with
respect to how administrators handle minor offenses such as
defying a teacher, having cigarettes or fighting. They discussed
requiring principals to refer students with a set number of
offenses to alternative schools.
Principals on the board don't like the idea. Mandarin Middle
School Principal Walter Carr said principals need the
flexibility to deal with cases individually.
Recommending changes in the district's two alternative schools.
Several members said the schools are too crowded and students
should be separated more by age and type of offense. Members may
recommend a third school be built.
They'll also be looking at improving the outdoors work program
for middle school students -- called "The Woods" -- that's being
implemented in the district this year.
Implementing prevention programs sooner and requiring parental
involvement. Several members want to bring back a program that
teaches students in grades K through 12, and their parents,
about communication, dealing with anger and self-esteem. Called
"Student Option for Success," the program was cut several years
ago for funding reasons.
Other recommendations they'll look at include requiring student
uniforms and more training in classroom management for middle
school teachers, both ideas favored by several members.
The task force, formed in November, faces an April 1 deadline
to make final recommendations to the board.
"We can't solve everything in five months but we can identify
problems and some suggestions," said parent Nancy Broner. "Then
it will be up to the School Board."
Members have been meeting weekly, spending hours cloistered in
a conference room studying the student conduct code and
reviewing programs to help troubled kids.
Members like Landmark Middle School student Dolly Penn have
toured the district's alternative schools and surveyed teachers
and principals about student discipline. …