Brevard schools chairman, sheriff promise discipline crackdown with new policy

Move comes days after superintendent was ousted

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Days after the Brevard County School Board ousted the superintendent, plans are underway for a new school disciplinary policy in Brevard Public Schools.

Flanked by Sheriff Wayne Ivey and State Attorney Phil Archer, School Board Chairman Matt Susin went on camera Monday in front of the Brevard County Jail in Sharpes to announce plans to impose the “most prolific school discipline policy this district has ever had.”

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“It’s a new day,” Ivey repeatedly said throughout the announcement.

Susin did not say what this policy would include. He said he was calling an emergency meeting for next week to draft the policy with input from Archer’s office, Ivey, and the teachers and school staff unions.

Members of the media were not invited to ask questions about what the district plans to do.

The current student code of conduct was approved by the Brevard County School Board, including Susin himself, in February 2022.

Ivey said the new disciplinary policy was necessary because teachers and administration were handcuffed by the current student code of conduct from dealing with students.

“They know nothing is going to happen to them,” Ivey said. “They know they’re not going to be given after-school detention, they’re not going to be suspended, they’re not going to be expelled, or like in the old days, they’re not going to have the cheeks of their ass torn off for not doing right in class.”

Ivey said the school discipline situation is so bad that the district is losing teachers.

A representative from the union for school bus drivers and other school employees said staff members were being hurt by students.

“The instructional assistants that are in the classrooms are choked, they’re bitten, they’re scratched. It’s an everyday occurrence,” said Delores Varney with IUPAT Local 1010. “And they’re so discouraged because nothing is ever done with the students, or at least it appears there is nothing being done. If it is, it’s taking way too long to remove these bad students from the classrooms.”

According to the most recently released student discipline data from the Florida Department of Education, Brevard Public Schools reported few student expulsions in the 2020-2021 school year — fewer than 10. However, there were 2,518 in-school suspensions, 4,457 out-of-school suspensions, 435 students placed in an alternative educational setting and 139 students who were physically restrained.

News 6 has asked why members of the media were not invited to the announcement Monday. We are also asking the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office why it spearheaded the announcement rather than the school board and held it at the jail.

The sheriff’s office told News 6 that Sheriff Ivey was not available for an interview Monday and more information would be provided later in the week.

The state attorney’s office also released the following statement, in part:

Mr. Archer pledged his support of the effort to protect students and school employees from violent acts and other criminal behaviors that place them at risk. While we hope that the need for prosecution and criminal court sanctions will be infrequent, prosecutors will hold those who commit crimes and victimize others accountable for their actions.

This is the latest major change since voters approved new school board members in August and November. Within weeks, the school board entered separation negotiations with Superintendent Mark Mullins, who had been an employee with Brevard Public Schools for nearly 30 years, saying the district needed new leadership.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.