New rule: Record a fight at school, face a penalty


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Major changes are on the way to the Duval County school system, not only dealing with the safety and security of students but also to rules about video recording fights and posting them online.

Several fight videos recorded on cellphones surfaced last school year. Now, plans are in place to penalize the students behind the camera.

The district is forming a task force of teachers, principals and parents to revise the student code of conduct this year.

"You have an incident like the one in Baldwin and it's videotaped, and people think it's happening in every school. It's the exact opposite," Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said.

It's an issue Vitti says every school district in the nation is dealing with: the abuse of technology to promote violence in class and on the bus. It's the reason why students could find themselves in trouble just for pressing record.

"What bothers me as an educator, superintendent, parent, is that if a child knows a fight will occur and they position themselves to videotape that fight and not prevent it, there is a level of responsibility that student takes on, and I think repercussions have to go along with that," Vitti said.

The penalty right now for recording fights at school in Duval County is unclear, but Vitti says parents can be assured the district will take action. Also new this school year as part of a $24 million budget boost are additional security guards at every school and a dean of discipline to handle the punishment.

"Any time you're talking about more adults being more present and more vigilant and visible, I think we can prevent situations from happening," Vitti said.

He said the additional staff at the school will give staff members the ability to focus on building relationships with the students to find a way to stop a fight or argument before it even starts.

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