Concerned weapons or other possible prohibited items might be found on campus, administrators from the Franklin County Schools requested the sheriff’s office conduct a search of middle and high school student lockers and belongings on Monday morning.
No weapons were found, but what was confiscated were vapes, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and over-the-counter medications.
“All students found to have any of these prohibited items will be issued consequences and parents will be notified,” read a release from the district. “While we are disappointed that students are engaging in this type of activity, we are pleased that there were no weapons or illegal drugs found to be on campus.
“We will continue this process to deter violations of the student code of conduct and Florida Statutes in order to provide a safe learning environment,” it read.
While the sheriff’s office has the discretion to issue civil citations, Christy Thompson, a spokesman for the department, said they will defer to the district to handle the matters with school discipline, which in many instances can be a three-day out-of-school suspension.
“The sheriff’s office encourages parents and guardians, as well as school officials to talk with the youth concerning the health hazards of using these products,” read the Facebook page for Sheriff A.J. Smith. “Several articles and videos are available to review the health dangers associated with these products. Teenagers across the country are having issues due to using Juul Vapes. Please educate yourselves and put healthy habits as a priority in life.”
Superintendent Traci Moses said that because school safety is a top priority, the district works closely with the sheriff’s office in this regard. “From time to time it is necessary to do a school wide search for contraband on campus,” she said.
Moses said that several instances of fighting had led to concerns that racial conflict might be heightening at the school.
“I asked the principal and his staff that and they did not feel there was racial tension,” she said. “There have been several fights, over different issues.”
Moses said Principal Michael Sneed and the deans are working to institute “restorative practices,” which place the emphasis less on the punitive and more on building constructive relationships. She said they are planning to sit down with students as well as their parents to address the issues that are giving rise to conflicts.
“We really want the kids to learn character and solve problems in a respectful manner,” she said. “We’re trying to get away from that (punishment) norm and teach students to work together to solve problems, and parents provide another level of responsibility, another layer in the relationship between school and home.”
Moses said that an anonymous tip line on the Franklin County School District website at www.franklincountyschools.org, which is closely monitored, has enabled the school to intervene in problematic situations within families.
“We also have a free school district app, Franklin CountySD, which is available for download to your mobile device, for all of the most up-to-date information related to our schools,” she said.
Moses said FortifyFL is a free app from the Florida Department of Education for reporting suspicious activity, and allows the user to instantly relay information to appropriate law enforcement agencies and school officials.
“We encourage all students, parents, school board employees, and community members, if you see or hear something suspicious, please say something,” she said. “We appreciate all community support in keeping our schools safe.”