Accusations of misconduct by the Santa Rosa County School Board in reference to the school’s corporal punishment policy was made by James McNulty Thursday, after a school board meeting, who said the issue must be addressed with legal action for rectification. Action by the state attorney or a civil lawsuit is the only option, McNulty said.
The Santa Rosa County School Board is being accused of allegedly being in violation of Florida State statutes and possibly the Florida Sunshine Law by an organization called Floridians Against Corporal Punishment in Public School in Navarre. At issue is whether or not the School Board properly advertised a notice of public hearings concerning its corporal punishment policies of school students five consecutive weeks as required and as the School Board claims.
In a letter to School Board members, and Superintendent Wyrosdick, dated February 20, James McNulty, Navarre, the founder and a member of Floridians Against Corporal Punishment in Public School, requested the board establish a moratorium or a ban on this policy.
In an April 25, 2013 memo to School Board members regarding the Student Code of Conduct 2013-2014, McNulty said a copy of public hearings to adopt revisions to Santa Rosa District Schools’ Code of Conduct for 2013-2014 was included.
“We re aware of the legislative and State Board of Education Regulations concerning School Districts such as the Santa Rosa County School District that continues to use treatment of corporal punishment against school students,” McNulty said. There was some concern the proper advertising of the notice was not done.
Superintendent Wyrosdick replied with the notice and the five dates it was allegedly published and copies of proposed revisions, additions and deletions which he said would be available at School Board headquarters for public scrutiny from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, May 28 through June 27, 2013.
In a direct address to the school board on Thursday, McNulty said proof of publication of the notice could not be found, in spite of the assertion of the school superintendent it was printed. McNulty says all he has asked is that the School Board put a moratorium on its present corporal punishment policy which it has refused to do.
“Under the circumstances there’s nothing left but to take legal action,” McNulty said. He has not yet, however, decided which course of action to take.
When questioned about the situation on Friday, Wyrosdick said he appreciated McNulty’s perspective and passion about corporal punishment and the board is currently in the process of reviewing and discussing the current code. “Mr. McNulty and I had a good conversation on Thursday after the meeting. It is highly likely the corporal punishment policy will be withdrawn. This is the direction we are currently traveling,” said Wyrosdick. He also said it was apparent to him McNulty’s experience with corporal punishment was not positive, while other individuals had positive experiences. Wyrosdick said it was utmost importance he protect his employees because of incidences within the county. He said more than once an employees administered corporal punishment on a student with the parent present and with signed approval. After following through, the parent filed a charge with Department of Children and Families (DCF). “This is alarming,” said Wyrosdick. “I can’t protect my employees. At this point, removing the policy is the best stance and that’s my recommendation.”