‘Attacked, scratched, headbutted:’ Brevard School Board discusses discipline issues in district

Meeting addressed discipline crackdown policies

VIERA, Fla. – Brevard County school board members discussed discipline crackdown policies during a meeting Thursday morning.

The meeting started at 9 a.m., weeks after Brevard County School Board Chair Matt Susin said 42 teachers and eight bus drivers have quit because of student behavior.

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A Merritt Island High School instructional assistant told the board she is abused regularly by her students.

“On an everyday basis, I’m deflecting being attacked, scratched, headbutted,” Alicia Kelderhouse said.

The teacher’s union president listed more than 20 other reports of violence, harassment and disrespect in classrooms.

“Incident (No.) 5, a student attacked three teachers today,’’ said Anthony Colucci, the Brevard Federation of Teachers president. “Incident (No.) 6, a kid bit her on Friday. The bite mark on her arm is the size of an orange.”

The meeting follows an announcement last week by Susin and Sheriff Wayne Ivey in front of the Brevard County Jail, promising a disciplinary crackdown.

“Everybody in this room is agreeing our teachers and our students deserve a safe-learning environment to go to school in,” Ivey said during Thursday’s school board meeting.

Cape View Elementary School grandparent Chuck Baird said at Thursday’s meeting he supported holding students accountable for misbehaving.

“The teachers don’t need to have to be worried about getting hurt or something like that, especially with the older kids,” Baird said.

Marie Baker, though, worried what stricter enforcement might mean for her grandson with autism. She said he’s been in trouble before at the elementary school.

“And the teachers don’t get his side of it,” she said. “They call him a liar. If two kids get in trouble, both of them should be punished.”

Gene Trent, who was a teacher before he was elected to the board this year, suggested how parents might be able to help make improvements.

“From the extreme end we need, maybe, parents walking some hallways,” Trent proposed. “We need parents to possibly sit in your child’s classroom.”

[RELATED: Brevard schools chairman, sheriff promise discipline crackdown with new policy]

Another teacher asked for more employees in schools to manage discipline like hall monitors.

“At times, we have to call someone to come to our room so we can go and have a little mini-breakdown in the bathroom,” Sandy Edwards of Bayside High School said. “Others will just drop off their keys and their badges at the front office on their way out the door never to be seen again.”

More suggestions from the board Thursday included banning students from using their phones in class.

Stick with News 6 and ClickOrlando.com as the board’s discussion on student discipline will continue at future meetings.

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About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.