PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The Pasco County School District is issuing a stern warning to students about fighting. Going forward, students could face expulsion if they engage in fights, physical attacks, battery, or other physically abusive and disruptive acts.
“I acknowledge that there has been an unacceptable number of fights and disruptions in our schools,” said Kurt Browning, Superintendent of Pasco County Schools.
He addressed students, staff, and parents in a video message on Tuesday about ongoing concerns regarding fighting in classrooms and on buses in Pasco County.
“For the vast majority of students and parents, this message is intended to let you know that I have heard the concerns from teachers, leaders, students and parents,” said Browning.
The district is now issuing a stern warning to students about repercussions going forward.
“For the small but significant number of students who engage in fights and serious misbehaviors, this message is a warning that a failure to behave appropriately in our schools will result in serious consequences,” said Browning.
Browning said he will now direct principals to expel students involved in what they call level three fights.
“We are talking about the kind of fight that has to be broken up and results in injury to a student that requires medical attention. So we are not talking about some fourth graders that get into it on the playground and the teachers separate them,” said Pasco school district spokesperson Steve Hegarty.
ABC Action News has reported in the past about issues with fighting in Pasco County, specifically at Fivay High school in Hudson.
- Pasco County student charged with felony battery for fight that sent another student to hospital
- Parents have concerns after fights continue at Fivay High School
- Fivay High School fights lead to added security measures
- Pasco County school district cracking down on fights at Fivay High school
“That’s a very dangerous thing at a school. It’s dangerous for students. It’s dangerous for the teachers that have to get in the middle and break it up,” said Hegarty.
This year, Browning said the district has seen a serious disruption of educational environments at some schools. The district said the number of those level three fights this year is significant, 253 at high schools and 216 at middle schools.
“The number of fights has reached an alarming level. We must and we will put an end to it,” said Browning.
That’s why the school district will impose the strictest disciplinary measures against any student who engages in fights, physical attacks, battery, or other physically abusive and disruptive acts.
“I’m 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,” said Browning.
“I don’t want to blame COVID for everything but if you talk to the airlines right now, I think there’s a level of aggression that you are seeing with people. Some level of frustration that results in aggression. We are seeing that in the schools. You are seeing that in a lot of different places,” said Hegarty.
Elementary schools are included in the stricter punishments.
The district says they had more than 50 level three fights at elementary schools and those students will now be included in the stricter punishments.
He said he doesn’t want to have to expel students but the district now has to take swift action.
“We owe it to students and staff to do everything we can to ensure a safe learning environment free of violence and disruption,” said Browning.
This change went into effect Tuesday.