Union to ‘wait and see’ if discipline crackdown translates to less violence against Brevard teachers

WKMG ClickOrlando | By James Sparvero | August 7, 2023

‘The district is really going to have to prove that some things changed,’ Brevard Federation of Teachers says

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Starting with Sheriff Wayne Ivey’s livestream last year at the Brevard County jail and followed by months of divisive debate, the chair of Brevard County’s school board believes the district is benefiting from its tough conversations on student discipline.

Matt Susin argued employees are now more empowered to enforce district policies on dress code and cell phones including a ban of phones in the classroom.”So the discipline procedures that we put in have allowed teachers to take control of their actual classrooms. The bus drivers will be able to take control of their buses and transportation,” Susin said.

Susin called for a special school board meeting on the district’s discipline policy last December when he said teachers and bus drivers were quitting because of bad behavior.

Those complaints were followed by meetings of a new discipline committee made up of principals and representatives of Brevard County’s teachers union.

Brevard Federation of Teachers second vice president Jonathan Hilliard said teachers are coming off of an extremely challenging year.

“So our teachers, you know, they’re a little shell-shocked,” he said.

On the eve of the new year, Hilliard said the union is cautious but also hopeful it will receive less reports of violence against teachers.

”It’s going to be really a wait-and-see. And I hate to say it, but the district is really going to have to prove that some things changed and they’re being proactive,” he said.

And as the district starts another year with about 200 instructional vacancies, Susin believes stricter discipline will help fill job openings.

The district said teachers and bus drivers making more money is another incentive. All drivers are now making five more dollars an hour.

And thanks to voters approving a tax last year, the district said most of its other employees will see bigger paychecks too.

”They feel more confident with the pay and they feel better about the board and the superintendent’s attention to the discipline policy and behavior that we want to see on our school buses and in our classrooms,” Russ Bruhn with the district’s government and community relations department said.

The first day of school for students is Thursday.

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