Brevard Public Schools leaders hold conference to discuss student behavior

Discipline crackdown policies to be discussed at upcoming school board meeting

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard Public School leaders held a conference with parents Thursday evening to discuss topics like behavior trends in schools and best practices for dealing with students.

The conference — dubbed “Parent Academy” — allowed coordinators to share techniques for parents to use at home to encourage better behavior from their children.

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According to Russell Bruhn, chief strategic communications officer for BPS, disciplinary issues have been a problem for schools in the district.

“Any work place you go to, behavior (has) become an issue over the last two or three years,” he said. “So we’re dealing with something that a lot of other industries are dealing with, as well.”

While the Parent Academy was held just days after Sheriff Wayne Ivey and School Board Chairman Matt Susin announced new disciplinary policies would be coming to district schools, Bruhn said the conference was unrelated and had been scheduled well before the announcement.

“We have a policy on our books that handles discipline, and we execute that day-in and day-out with our staff,” Bruhn told News 6. “Now, if the board chooses to update that policy, then we will look at that and follow that, as well.”

During a news conference in front of a jail Monday, Ivey said that schools have had issues dealing with students due to the restrictive policies in place.

“Our teachers, our principals, they’re actually powerless to do anything with the current policy that’s in place,” Ivey said. “Our teachers and our principals are powerless to do anything to stop this.”

A school bus driver union representative and other school officials 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 the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. “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.”

Kristin Mcbenton, whose child is a student and husband is a teacher in the district, attended Thursday night’s workshop.

She told News 6 that she believes the proposed crackdown on student discipline could result in a “school-to-prison pipeline.”

“It is definitely politically motivated because it’s not based on research. It’s not based on what the teachers want and what teachers are saying,” Mcbenton said.

Mcbenton added that she felt it was inappropriate to make that sort of announcement outside the jail.

“It was very scary as a parent to see that they think that my children are little snots,” she said. “It made it seem like they wanted to bring back corporal punishment.”

The Brevard County School Board will hold a special meeting on Thursday, Dec. 8. Discipline policies are expected to be discussed during that meeting.

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About the Authors:

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.

Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined in April 2022.