Orange County schools forms disciplinary task force over student behavioral issues

First task force meeting was held at the district HQ on Thursday

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Public Schools are addressing what they say is a growing problem in the classroom — poor student behavior.

With many in the district reporting fights and students disrespecting teachers, a new disciplinary task force has been assembled to help deal with the growing issues.

The task force, which includes district staff, parent and community members, met for the first time Thursday at the district’s headquarters.

In August 2022, a state grand jury on school safety accused OCPS of underreporting criminal activity in its schools to Florida state officials, noting potential safety violations at campuses in Apopka.

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Superintendent Maria Vasquez said that following several community town halls last fall, parents frequently expressed concerns about behavioral issues in class.

“People may not be aware now: if you don’t have a child in school or you’re at a school where discipline might not be an issue, you might not know that it really is a concern for us, and there are so many things parents can do to help us,” Vasquez said.

Members of the task forces also include Orlando police, sheriff’s office deputies, the NAACP, mental health professionals and a child psychiatrist.

Task force member Pernell Crosky is the discipline dean of Ocoee High School, and he said that it’s important for educators to have a passion to help students succeed.

“My biggest motivation, honestly, is I want to change the world,” Crosky said. “When I see a student as a problem student, if you will, I look at that kid and think, ‘That’s why I’m here.’ That’s what I need to fix.”

The first meeting was an introduction to the members and involved laying out the plan for the task force during the next few months.

Vazquez said that it’s important that the group comes up with a universal behavioral standard for the district so that students know what is expected of them.

At the next meeting, members are expected to share more ideas that could become solutions. The next task force meeting is scheduled for March 23.

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

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.