Brevard County schools reporting fewer attacks to state, data shows

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — As Brevard school district leaders and community members wrangled over changes to the district’s disciplinary policy during a marathon meeting Thursday, state data showed the district is reporting fewer of the issues happening on campus.


Data from Florida’s School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting System shows Brevard officials submitted 2,274 incidents ranging from arson to tobacco use during the 2018-2019 school year. However, the number of reports declined to 1,603 during the 2019-2020 school year and 1,470 during the 2020-2021 semesters.

Critically, some of the biggest contributors to the decline happened in the types of incidents school leaders say are becoming more common in classrooms and on buses: physical attacks, bullying, fighting and intimidation.

READ: School board discusses student discipline policy in Brevard County

Reached by phone Thursday evening, School Board Chairman Matt Susin could only offer a theory as to why the number of SESIR reports dropped. Some of it was due to students moving to virtual classrooms for COVID, he believed, while the lack of enforcement of disciplinary policies led to the rest.

If true, that reasoning provides ammunition to the groups that spent seven hours discussing the state of quasi-anarchy they said the county’s school system appears to be in.

Over the course of the meeting, which several people involved said was supposed to last just 120 minutes, parents, community members, teachers, support staff and board members debated, sometimes with raised voices, changes to the district’s policies that would shove students back into line.

READ: SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center

“What you’re hearing today was firsthand accounts of what’s going on inside of our schools and what needs to be corrected,” Susin said after the meeting wrapped up. “We were able to deliver some great things for our teams.”

Much of the solution was reinforcing policies that were already on the books. Four items surfaced that were likely to be used as a foundation for any votes in the future were:

  • Enacting a zero-tolerance policy when students attack staff and mandating discipline
  • Equalizing the treatment of incidents on buses and in classrooms, ensuring the consequences are the same for both
  • Implementing a strict “no cellphone use” policy in the classroom
  • Trespassing parents who board buses after being told to get off

READ: FDLE: No disciplinary issues reported for Brevard County deputies involved in shooting

“We got four instances in the last two weeks where parents are coming onto our buses,” Susin said when questioned about the fourth item. “They’re either attacking yelling at the students, yelling at the bus driver or in one case we had a parent go on the back of the bus and tell everybody to get off the bus.”

Nothing discussed Thursday was finalized, and changes are expected before any policy is formally rewritten or adjusted. Some of the key sticking points included how tough to be on students – some parents worried about widening the “school to prison pipeline” – and if any new policy would result in unfair treatment for Black and other minority kids and teens.

READ: Atheist group demands apology from Lake County, citing discrimination over invocation

“There’s bias going on in our society in general, and it’s not acceptable,” Jonathan Hilliard, with the Brevard Federation of Teachers, said. “We want to make sure that all of our kids are given the appropriate encouragement, compassion and, when it’s time for consequence, the appropriate consequence.”

The Brevard County School Board’s next meeting is on Tuesday.

READ: Rep. Joe Harding resigns after being indicted on fraud charges

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.