Duval County School Board discusses update to critical grand jury report on district crime reporting

Late edition of the agenda for Tuesday morning’s meeting included discussion of heavily critical report

The Duval County Public School board discussed a recently released report from a Florida grand jury that accuses the former director of DCPS Police Department of severely underreporting instances of crimes on school campuses over a four-year period.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County Public School board discussed a recently released report from a Florida grand jury that accuses the former director of DCPS Police Department of severely underreporting instances of crimes on school campuses over a four-year period.

The workshop was set a week before the previously scheduled update, in direct response to an August 29 memo from the Florida Department of Education Office for Safe Schools director, Tim Hay.

The letter said, “we have reason to believe that some of the policies and actions the grand jury found are ongoing and require immediate action. This includes, but is not limited to: School officials violated – and continue to violate – state law by systematically underreporting incidents of criminal activity to the Florida Department of Education.”

In response to the concern that the district “continued” to systematically underreport crimes in Duval Schools, the district showed its recent metrics of offenses that are serious enough to be recorded in the state’s School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting (SESIR), and among those, how many were reported to law enforcement.

Though the school years of 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019 show DCPS was reporting SESIR incidents to law enforcement at a much smaller rate than the state average, the school years of 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 showed that it became consistent with the state average.

This infographic was featured in a Duval County Public School presentation on Sept. 13, 2022. (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

The data falls in line with the school district’s narrative that it initiated “process improvement” to create reporting safeguards and accountability following the January 2020 resignation of DCPS Police director Micheal Edwards.

News4JAX asked the Florida Department of Education what led to the “concerns” director Hay mentioned, but the office did not immediately reply.

The grand jury report shows how 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.

MORE: Superintendent responds after state sends letter outlining ‘major concerns’ in wake of searing grand jury report

The district said the procedures in question have been changed. Still, the school board acknowledged that more needs to be done.

Last month, school board member Lori Hershey acknowledged the “sins of the past” when discussing the report, but felt reassured that “action was taken.”

RELATED: Duval school board acknowledges major issues in grand jury report, says changes have been made

On Monday, an item was added to the official agenda for the board’s Tuesday morning workshop was streamed online.


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Joe covers education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.