Osceola School Board member proposes task force after video shows deputy slamming student

Public comment expected to dominate first meeting since video went viral

Click Orlando | by Lauren Cervantes | February 2, 2021

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – A week after a video went viral showing an Osceola County school resource deputy slamming a student into the ground at Liberty High School the school board addressed the video during a meeting Tuesday night.

Tuesday marked the first school board meeting since the incident.

A video posted on social media shows Deputy Ethan Fournier, a school resource officer at Liberty High School, throwing a female student to the floor while seemingly trying to restrain her.

Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez addressed the video in a news conference last week, saying the agency has decided to turn over the investigation as a criminal investigation to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

School Board Member Julius Melendez said he plans to announce the creation of a task force that will work to draw up a policy to address what actions school resource officers can and cannot take.

“The goal is to actually create a concrete policy that we can all abide by, and it’s not just the sheriff’s office, it’s all of the law enforcement agencies that the school district works with,” said Melendez.

He said he will be putting together a citizen’s review board that will draw up a policy detailing the role of school resource officers on campus.

In regard to the video that’s garnered national attention, Melendez said, “the optics are horrible and that’s why it triggered me to do this.”

Melendez said the task force will have about nine members and will include former law enforcement, a de-escalation expert and a representative from a local civil rights group.

Melendez added that this isn’t just in response to the incident at Liberty High School or the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s not targeted to the sheriff, we’re looking at an entire comprehensive policy of how we want to discipline our children on school,” he said.

He said he plans to have the task force meet four times to work on creating the policy before it’s presented to the school board.

School Board Member Jon Arguello said he was expecting a number of people to show up to Tuesday night’s meeting to speak during the public comment portion.

“Anyone who saw the video of the lady being slammed to the ground should be appalled,” one person said during the public comment portion.

Arguello said he’s received emails from parents on the subject.

“I’ve come here to decry that kind of behavior and ask this board right now, don’t just talk the talk tonight, walk then walk,” another person said at the meeting.

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