In order to safeguard our schools, students, and staff, Pasco County Schools will be taking affirmative steps to decrease the disruption of our educational environment caused by students who engage in physical altercations (fights) and similar misbehavior at school.
For all school staff, I want you to know I have heard your concerns, I acknowledge there has been an unacceptable number of fights and disruptions in our schools, and I am taking action. Today, I am sending a warning to students who engage in physical altercations at school that their failure to behave appropriately in our schools will result in serious consequences.
Starting today, Tuesday, March 22, we will no longer offer leniency when students engage in fights and similarly unacceptable behavior. From this point on, Pasco County Schools will impose the strictest disciplinary measures available against all students who engage in fights, physical attacks, battery, or similar physically abusive and disruptive acts. In other words, I as the Superintendent of Pasco County Schools, am directing Principals to recommend the expulsion of any student who engages in acts of physical violence.
This is a significant departure from the lenient stance we have taken before, a stance that I believe has emboldened students to engage in unacceptable behavior because they have no fear of consequences.
Of course, all students that are recommended for expulsion will have available to them the appropriate due process provided by School Board Policy, as set forth in the Student Code of Conduct. It is not our intent to punish students for appropriately protecting themselves. Evidence of protection will be considered by administration before assigning discipline, and, when necessary, will be considered by an independent hearing officer.
Clearly, this does not apply to students who have certain behaviors that are manifestations of their disabilities. We will continue to provide them with all legal safeguards and services that will permit them to gain access to your education.
School administrators, teachers, and staff, I ask you to work with us to ensure a safe learning environment free of violence and disruption. Help reinforce the message at your school that these inappropriate behaviors will have serious consequences. We have no wish to expel students. At the same time, we have a moral obligation and a statutory responsibility to ensure that students, teachers, and all school staff have a safe campus environment, and to protect their physical well-being while on campus. I am confident that, working as a school community, we can preserve an orderly learning environment where students concentrate on learning and teachers concentrate on teaching.
Pasco County Superintendent of Schools