“I think we here in Volusia are in compliance today, it’s a good learning opportunity for us to take a look at where we can improve, and by all means we’re going to make sure we always meet the mandates that are set forth through policy.”
Greg Akin, Chief Operating Officer, Volusia County Schools, as quoted in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Grand jury slams school safety,” December 16, 2019
You think our schools are in compliance with the mandatory safety and security provisions set forth in the aftermath of the atrocity at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas?
My God. . .what the hell is he blathering about?
Last week, a report was released by the statewide grand jury impaneled in February and charged with investigating the implementation of legislative recommendations and physical security mandates contained in the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Safety Act.
According to the report, the panel heard evidence of widespread noncompliance in school districts around the state, describing some security plans as being, “held together with nothing more than chewing gum, duct tape and hope.”
Because recent violent incidents at several Volusia County schools, including an ambulatory drunk, armed with a pocket knife, that penetrated the gauze-like security protocols at a local high school before taking a seat in an occupied classroom – and the frequent no-holds-barred brawls among students that turn a “learning environment” into a prison riot – and you get the idea Mr. Akin, and the other unqualified jack-legs responsible for our children’s safety, are clueless.
Social media is abuzz with horror stories of bullying and violent physical altercations – to include anecdotal tales of headlocks, choke-holds and students dragging other students across under-supervised lunchrooms by their hair – closed-door interrogations of victims by administrators, and a host of other frightening scenarios that play out daily on school campuses across Volusia County.
The fact is, even the best safety and security measures are only as good as the professionals who develop, test and implement them.
In my view, here in Volusia County Schools, the legally-defined security specialist role has become a catchall – a negligent afterthought – and the glaring lack of leadership and expertise is self-evident.
This lack of professional competence and concern is exemplified in Mr. Akin’s nonsensical, CYA statement to The Daytona Beach News-Journal. It seems no one at Volusia County Schools understands that doing the bare minimum to meet what they think the standard may be isn’t enough.
Lives are a stake. Dammit.
One would have thought that given the grave urgency of protecting our schools our new Superintendent, Dr. Scott Fritz, would have made immediate modifications to the district’s seemingly non-existent safety and security function.
It’s called hitting the ground running – prioritizing urgent issues before an emergency – and taking bold, decisive action to establish a culture of accountability and telegraph what is important to students, teachers and staff.
Instead, following Dr. Fritz’ first goal setting session, the News-Journal reports that we can expect three priorities in the new year – in-house vaccinations for middle schoolers, the possible consolidation of the historic Osceola and Ortona elementary schools (leaving the beachside with a K-8, similar to what Holly Hill residents were saddled with), and the expansion of the bureaucracy with a “Deputy Superintendent” and “Chief Information Technology” position. . .
Not one word in the newspaper about our immediate need for the restoration of order on our school campuses or implementing something that vaguely resembles a security and safety program manager.
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss?
I have publicly asked Volusia County School Board chairman Carl Persis to take official action to recruit a professional security expert with the training and experience to secure the high-risk, dynamic environment of a school campus – someone with a proven track record of developing the passive and active safety and security procedures necessary to protect the thousands of lives placed in the district’s care each day.
And the mettle to enforce them. . .
To date, Chairman Persis has proven a massive disappointment – a perennial politician who plays lip service to concerned constituents – and I have seen absolutely no substantive progress on this most important issue since my reasonable request weeks ago.
In my view, it is time the statewide grand jury starts handing down criminal indictments of any senior administrator, or elected school board member, in any district in the State of Florida who fails to thoroughly implement the essential statutory mandates of the MSD Public Safety Act.
These do-nothing incompetents – as recipients of public funds – should be held personally responsible for the reprehensible environment we are forced to subject vulnerable children to each day.
We simply cannot wait for the unthinkable before Volusia County – and other districts around the Sunshine State – pull their collective head out of their ass and do their jobs.
The tools are in place – the strategies have been clearly spelled out in state law – and these best practices have been paid for and sanctified with the blood of innocents.
This simply cannot continue.