DCPS responds to scathing report saying district underreported crimes

Grand jury blasts former police director saying, ‘conduct is not simply irresponsible, it is absolutely criminal’

Duval County School Board Police at Matthew Gilbert Middle (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A spokesperson for Duval County Public Schools addressed the latest report from a Florida grand jury that accuses the former director of Duval County Public Schools’ Police Department of severely underreporting instances of crimes on school campuses over a four-year period.

MORE | ‘Overt fraud’: Former DCPS police chief didn’t report more than 2,000 crimes, grand jury finds

“The new grand jury report correctly states that we self-reported to the state when we discovered the errors in our 2018 SESIR reporting data,” DCPS communications director Tracy Pierce said. “We will continue to cooperate with the grand jury and other participants in any further, potential judicial action to provide any evidence which may address the claims made against Mr. Edwards in the report.” (The full statement from Pierce can be read at the bottom of this article.)

DCPS Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, who told the grand jury back in January of last year that she would leave law enforcement decisions to the law enforcement leaders, declined to comment on the report on Monday but did address the panel during the course of its investigation.

While the jury expressed concern at Greene’s apparent lack of awareness of the allegations, the panel added that it should not be part of a superintendent’s portfolio anyway.

DCPS Police Chief Micheal Edwards resigned in 2021, roughly a month after a preliminary report excoriated the department’s reporting practices.

Full statement from DCPS:

Investigators had combed through more than 2,600 “incident” reports. The jury said more than 520 of them should have been labeled “offense” reports and filed with state law enforcement.

They included 150 instances of battery on a school employee, 94 instances of child abuse,157 lewd acts and many others.

David Barksdale, who is representing Edwards, released the following statement to News4JAX:

“Grand jury proceedings are secret under state law so I don’t know what took place before the grand jury. The Police Operational Procedure Orders for which Mr. Edwards was criticized in fact were public records. In any event, the Grand Jury’s Final Report reports that the Office of Statewide Prosecution will not bring formal charges against Mr. Edwards. This matter is closed.

As I said last week, Mr. Edwards has devoted 36 years of his life to protecting and serving the citizens of Duval County. All who have worked with Mr. Edwards would say that he was conscientious, courageous, hardworking, and willing to give his all to improve the work environment. His resounding goal as a leader has been to ensure that all citizens, faculty members, students, and employees of the Duval County School Police Department were treated the way he would have liked to be treated as a person. He is thankful for all the support he has received during this journey. He is proud of his 36 years of law enforcement service to our community.”

David Barksdale, attorney for Micheal Edwards