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Monday, April 27, 2015

Is Duval County Public Schools at least partly responsible for a young mans death?

I have been saying that tragedy was just around the corner. That kids need discipline, consequences and then corrective support for their actions. I wonder if our lack of intervention and consequences after an in school fight at least partly led to a murder this past weekend.

Just look at the passage below from an article in the Times Union about a young high school student from First Coast high school that was gunned down at at house party. 

The students said Johnson, who was 18 but was initially identified as 16, got into a fight at the high school with a senior. Johnson, who was well-known for his scrappiness, won the fight against the larger combatant, the students said.

They said Johnson was warned not to go to the after-prom party because the student he fought was already there. He went anyway. Once at the party, one of Johnson’s friends directed derogatory lyrics from a song at the shooter, the students said.
He then pulled out a gun and shot both Johnson and the person who had been taunting him.

He was well known for his scrappiness. I wonder if the district ever took notice or if either student received consequences for the fight they were in. I somehow doubt it was the first fight for either. Maybe they both felt invincible because in the past their poor behavior had been ignored or dismissed.

I am not victim blaming here but if it turns out he was killed by a classmate how close were we from seeing this beef played out at school? It seems pretty close.

Kids need consequences for their behavior and fighting should never be tolerated. If the fights recently publicized would have happened at the landing or in a grocery store kids would have went to jail. Society wouldn't have just shrugged their shoulders and said, oh kids will be kids. they would have demanded we do something.

Vitti's heart may have been in the right place, we were probably suspending children at to fast of a pace and we were definitely ignoring the underlying causes of their behavior, who knows given proper training and resources restorative justice might even work. We however have an epidemic of violence in our schools and it's just a matter of time before a tragedy like the one that happened at the party happens at one of our schools.  

I wonder what would have happened if after the first fight both would have gotten a serious consequence followed up by behavior supports. I wonder what would have happened had our school system taken the time do thing right.

Discipline is not easy but ignoring it just makes our problems worse and in this case if the original beef happened at school and then nothing of consequence was done, ignoring discipline may have played a role in a young mans death, 

We have to wake up before this happens again.


  1. DTU should be dealing with this. The new Code of Conduct guarantees that Jax's crime rate will soar when the current cohort graduates.

  2. I can assure you the initial conflict was not handled properly. Johnnel's parents need an attorney who will subpoena the discipline records of the shooter. Let a jury decide if the school or the district acted with the safety of the other students in mind, or did Dr Brennen and his administration have another agenda. Were things glossed over or covered up to appease a parent with connections to someone in the school system? It happens all the time. If you go to church with the right person, your kid can get away with anything. It won't take Mike Wallace to blow this thing up. There is a damn good reason why so many decent people who live in the First Coast district will not send their kids to First Coast.

    The First Coast district is is a good neighborhood. People usually buy houses in good neighborhoods expecting good neighborhood schools.I feel bad for out of town couples who move into the First Coast area and think they have found their little slice of Heaven, only to send their kids to what appears to be a decent school and find out the 'Welcome' sign has been hanging out front for years inviting any problem child from the most violent areas of town to come on in.

    Believe me when I tell you that a disproportionate amount of discipline issues arise from a very small number of children, and the parents of those children move those kids around the county as if it was a Chess Board. In doing this, these parents are avoiding responsibility for their own children, and likewise the children never take responsibility for their own behavior. It's a train wreck and the Duval County School Board is the conductor.