I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What Should a Parent Do if Their Students are Assaulted or become Victims of Battery at School?

It becomes frustrating for parents if they have a student that has been assaulted or battered at our schools because parents trust us to keep their kids safe while appropriately punishing  violent bullying offenders, and yet we as an educational entity cannot divulge the punishment we give such offenders.  Discipline records are educational records and cannot be divulged under FERPA.

If the same parents press charges, they will receive information on the offender to include charges and eventual disposition of the case--to include any punishment given.

I struggle with this.  When parents have students that have been assaulted or abused at school, and the school minimizes the issue or downplays the severity, this infuriates parents.

As an example, right now at PHS there is an issue brewing of which I am aware that may erupt and result in Police being brought in;  The issue, incessant bullying and harassment of one student by another, with the aggressor hauling off and slapping the victim's head multiple times on multiple occasions over a multiple week period--frequently in the presence of other students.  This abhorrent behavior continues to this day.  The victim is afraid to defend himself, and is humiliated and demoralized because this keeps happening, and he does not know what to do.  According to what I have been told, the school has been made aware of this, and has taken a "boys will be boys" nonchalant stance on the matter---which is infuriating the parent.  Nothing is being done, and the student who is being victimized intends to transfer out of this school as soon as he can, in order to escape this bullying and harassment.

These incidents must be met with immediate steps to stop the behavior.  Allowed to continue, who knows how such behavior might escalate.  Perhaps the next time it could be something horrific like this past Wednesday's high school beating in a Baltimore High School...There must be zero tolerance for violence, bullying, and harassment in our schools, Zero Tolerance!

Why does the school not follow policy and put an end to this?  I'm going to dig into this PHS incident like an industrial horizontal boring machine.  I'm tired of hearing these stories about how our schools

are not appropriately handling these incidents!

Striking or touching a student is a violation of school board rules, and is also battery.  So should parents press charges in these instances if the matter is not handled at school?  I hate to say this, but I'm starting to think this is the only option that will bring results in some of these cases.

So if a parent feels the school did not handle the matter appropriately and decides they want to file charges-- what is the time limit on filing such charges?  For the answer I asked our school board attorney to delineate the statute of limitation for parents' filing of charges after a battery or assault on their students in our schools.  From her email:

 "There is no specific statute of limitations (SoL) for juvenile cases; however, the courts have indicated that the SoL for criminal prosecution of adults will be applicable in juvenile cases. See, e.g. State v. J.C., 677 So.2d 959 (2d DCA 1996).

As we discussed, an assault (basically, a realistic threat to do harm) is a second degree misdemeanor, with a 1 year SoL. However, if there was harm such as a broken nose, it may be more properly characterized as a battery (offensive touching or causing bodily harm), a first degree misdemeanor with a 2 year SoL, or possibly an aggravated battery (causing great bodily harm), a third degree felony with a 3 year SoL."

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