By Doug Miller
May 25,2022, Fernandina Beach
In a very timely move, considering the recent gruesome Texas and New York school shootings, the Nassau County School Board approved multiple school safety Administrative Rules which had already been in the pipeline.
Meeting Agenda & Video
The Thursday, May 26 meeting went off smoothly, with Administrative Rule (A. R. ) votes being unanimous and with little comment. Meeting documents may be accessed in the links in the agenda (click above).
Of interest was A.R. 2.55 ,the “safe school officers ” proposal, stating that “the school district may enter into an agreement with local law-enforcement to provide local enforcement and related services”. The proposal would also seek to include charter schools within our district.
Individuals would be “certified officers” and “employed by enforcement agencies.” One goal of this program would be to promote a positive image of law enforcement and respect for the law.
The proposal proceeds to state that student discipline is the responsibility of the school district, but law enforcement would be called on in the case of a crime being committed or a serious threat made.
School safety specialist and former Fernandina Beach police detective Al Smith came forward to reiterate the schools‘ commitment to safety, especially in light of the recent Texas school shooting.
As a 27 year veteran of the Fernandina Police Department, Detective Smith has been a School Resource Officer and has an impressive resume and extensive training in active shooter response.
A. R. 2.51, the safe and secure schools proposal, also passed with a unanimous vote. This is a comprehensive security plan including threat assessments, notification protocols and violence prevention. It includes procedures for identifying and dealing with students who may have mental health or substance abuse problems, addressing them before they become more serious.
This is exactly what many school districts and law enforcement agencies have not managed well, and we have seen the tragic results.
AR 5.79 , the student records proposal, deals with security and access of student records, which was straightforward.
A question was asked why parents must sign and date requests for records, whereas teachers, guidance counselors, academic advisers and others have free access. AR 5.79 also states that schools may collect Social Security numbers until the Department of Education issues student ID numbers.
AR 7.58, the emergency disaster proposal, seeks to use school facilities in the event of disasters. Apparently, Red Cross shelters are not available and it makes sense to use these facilities in those cases.
Items 6 through 10 were all change orders for the various school construction projects.
Several citizens came up to speak at the podium for their allotted 3 minutes:
– Richard Lamken of Fernandina Beach had several good points about discrepancies in the labeling of financial statements and also questioned why funds slated for COVID measures were being used for general operating expenses. Lamken is the Board of Directors‘ education representative for the Nassau County chapter of County Citizens for Defense of Freedom (CCDF), a civic group headed by local civic activist Jack Knocke. –
– Thomas Coleman approached the podium to ask for the reinstatement of Yvon Joinville, the former Yulee High School Principal, stating that he felt that no clear reason was given for his dismissal. Two others came forward to express their views that he was a dedicated and qualified administrator and felt he should return to his job.
Prior to this meeting was a workshop where the school board floated the idea of a tax increase to cover rising costs in many areas , including teacher salaries, fuel , and the Florida retirement system. It remains to be seen if voters will approve an increase. For more details, see floridapolitics.com/archives/628373-nassau-school-tax-increase.
Doug Miller, Citizen reporter, is an itinerant free spirit and jack of all trades. Born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico, he now operates Quality Home Services in Fernandina Beach and dreams of the next hurricane swell.