Admin


On August 10, 2017, the parties below announced the beginning of the School Justice Partnership.



COLLABORATIVE AGREEMENT ON SCHOOL DISCIPLINE


THIS AGREEMENT is by and between

THE SCHOOL BOARD OF ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA (hereinafter referred to as “SBOC”), a body corporate and political subdivision of the State of Florida whose principal place of business is 445 W. Amelia Street, Orlando, FL 32801
and
CHIEF JUDGE OF THE NINTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT whose principal place of business is 425 N. Orange Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32801
and
SHERIFF OF ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA whose principal place of business is 2500 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32804
and
CITY OF ORLANDO ORLANDO POLICE DEPARTMENT whose principal place of business is 100 S. Hughey Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801
and
CITY OF APOPKA APOPKA POLICE DEPARTMENT whose principal place of business is 112 E. Sixth Street, Apopka, FL 32703
and
CITY OF BELLE ISLE  BELLE ISLE POLICE DEPARTMENT whose principal place of business is 1600 Nela Avenue, Belle Isle, FL 32809
and
CITY OF EATONVILLE  EATONVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT whose principal place of business is 11 Peoples St. Eatonville, FL 32751
and
CITY OF MAITLAND MAITLAND POLICE DEPARTMENT whose principal place of business is  1837 Fennell Street, Maitland, FL 32751
and
CITY OF OCOEE OCOEE POLICE DEPARTMENT whose principal place of business is 646 Ocoee Commerce Parkway, Ocoee, FL 34761
and
TOWN OF WINDERMERE WINDERMERE POLICE DEPARTMENT whose principal place of business is 620 Main Street, Windermere, FL 34786
and
CITY OF WINTER PARK WINTER PARK POLICE DEPARTMENT whose principal place of business is 500 N. Virginia Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789
and
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE whose principal place of business is 2737 Centerview Drive, Tallahassee, Florida 32399

WHEREAS, the parties acknowledge that law enforcement plays an essential role in promoting and maintaining school safety and the physical security of students and the community and have been instrumental in establishing efforts to help and mentor the  students of Orange County, Florida; and,

WHEREAS, The Florida Legislature “encourage[s] schools to use alternatives to expulsion or referral to law enforcement agencies by addressing disruptive behavior through restitution, civil citation, teen court, neighborhood restorative justice, or similar programs” and has instructed school districts “that zero-tolerance policies are not intended to be rigorously applied to petty acts of misconduct and misdemeanors, including, but not limited to, minor fights or disturbances”; and,

WHEREAS, the legislature requires each school district to have a policy that defines criteria for reporting to a law enforcement agency any act that occurs whenever or wherever students are within the jurisdiction of the district school board, defines acts that pose a serious threat to school safety, defines petty acts of misconduct, minimizes the victimization of students, staff, or volunteers, including taking all steps necessary to protect the victim of any violent crime from any further victimization, and

WHEREAS, research supports that students arrested on campus are twice as likely not to graduate and students who appear in court before a Judge become four times as likely not to graduate; and,

WHEREAS, the vision of the SBOC is to be the top producer of successful students in the nation; and,

WHEREAS, the mission of the SBOC to lead its students to success with the support and involvement of families and the community; and,

WHEREAS, SBOC is committed to taking a vigorous approach to reduce school suspensions and keeping students out of the criminal justice system by promoting an engaging curriculum for its students, providing positive alternatives to school suspension, implementing restorative justice practices to reduce school suspensions, increasing the use of suspension centers in the local community, and conducting appropriate training for its administrators; and,

WHEREAS, the parties desire to reduce unnecessary interruptions to student’s school based activities, including where possible, using non-arrest solutions to address student misconduct; and,

WHEREAS, with a joint commitment to ending school-based arrests for minor misbehavior, school districts and law enforcement agencies across the country have improved school safety, school engagement and academic achievement; and,

WHEREAS, the Florida Constitution in Article I, Section 16 grants protections to victims of crimes or their lawful representatives, to include the right to be heard at all crucial stages of a criminal proceeding. It is acknowledged that the victim being able to report a crime is a crucial stage of a criminal proceeding and therefore a victim of crime has the right to be heard. The parties agree that nothing in this agreement shall be construed to take the victim(s) right to be heard away from the victim, and if appropriate, law enforcement
 
agencies will investigate criminal complaints even if they occur on a school campus.

WHEREAS, Florida Statute 1002.221(2)(c) allows the SBOC to enter into an interagency agreement along with the Department of Juvenile Justice, the school, law enforcement authorities, and other signatory agencies, to share school information while still being in compliances with FERPA. The SBOC, Department of Juvenile Justice, law enforcement and State Attorney’s Office agree that this Collaborate Agreement incorporates the interagency agreement considered under Florida Statute 1002.221(2)(C) to permit the sharing of information otherwise deemed confidential .

WHEREAS, the parties to this Agreement are confident that by working together, they can formalize and concentrate their efforts to create a culture of administrative solutions used to develop non-criminal sanctions where possible to allow all students to enjoy a safe and effective education;

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the premises and of the mutual covenants contained herein, the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, the Parties hereby agree as follows:

1. Intent. In order to follow the guidelines set forth by the Legislature, the parties are entering into this cooperative effort among the public agencies named herein to establish guidelines for the handling of school-based student misbehavior. The guidelines are intended to establish uniformity in the handling of incidents while ensuring that each case is addressed on a case-by-case basis. The manner in which each incident is handled by the Police, School System, and/or Court is dependent upon the many factors unique to each child that includes, but is not limited to, behavioral history, prior criminal history, present circumstances, mental health issues, disciplinary record, academic record, general demeanor and disposition toward others, disability or special education status, input from victim and other factors. Therefore, the parties acknowledge that students involved in the same incident or similar incidents may receive different and varying responses depending on the factors and needs of each student. To address these issues and ensure that all students have access to a safe and effective learning environment, the parties agree to enter into a cooperative agreement governing appropriate responses and use of resources when responding to school-based misbehavior.

2. Definitions. For purposes of this Agreement the terms below shall be defined as follows:

a. “Student Misbehavior” - breaches of the Code of Student Conduct, disruptions, and other transgressions or omissions by a student that occur on school grounds, school transportation or during a school sponsored or related event.
b. “Petty Acts of Misconduct” - Those acts that do not pose a direct threat to the safety of students, staff, volunteers, or other persons, or a threat of harm to school district property. Such acts include, but are not limited to, minor fights and disturbances.
c. “Non-Violent Misdemeanors” - Those misdemeanors that cause neither physical harm to persons nor significant damage to property. Such acts include, but are not limited to, theft of less than $300, criminal mischief of less than $1000, campus disruptions, disorderly conduct, trespassing, and gambling.
d. “Serious Threats to School Safety”- any information, including posts on social media, which threatens the safety of any individual or school property which requires the  
school staff to consult the School Resource Officer.

3. Holding Students Accountable. The parties agree that students need to be held accountable for misbehavior in order to learn from their mistakes, take responsibility for their actions, and reconnect to the school community. The parties also agree that an effective means of holding students accountable for their actions includes providing them with continuity and support from school officials that interact with them on a daily basis.

4. Responding to Student Misbehavior. In the event a student misbehaves, the school principal/designees will be the primary source of intervention and disciplinary consequences. The Code of Student Conduct and Discipline Matrix provide detailed information on consequences and interventions and shall guide the school board’s response to particular types of misbehavior. In addition, school officials shall make every effort to connect students to school or community-based support services, such as counseling, mentoring, or extra-curricular activities. Consistent with School Resource Officer agreements, School Resource Officers are not school disciplinarians. The role of disciplinarian within the school environment is the sole responsibility of school administration. School administrators should not refer non-criminal disciplinary matters to the School Resource Officer or other law enforcement officers; however, school administrators will ensure that the SRO’s are kept informed of conflicts between students, their parents or guardians and staff members; or other activities on campus that could result in an escalation of violence or more serious violations of law. This is particularly important where the school administration is aware of ongoing disputes, threats, gang activity or bullying.

Many types of minor student misbehavior may technically meet the statutory requirements of a crime, but are best handled outside of the criminal justice system. School administration shall, in a reasonable and practical time frame and in accordance with State law, advise the SRO, or if the SRO is not available, the Law Enforcement Agency, of any incidents which a reasonable person would believe constitute criminal activity occurring on school campus. If a reasonable person could believe that a criminal offense may have occurred, even if the behavior that could be defined as a "petty act of misconduct" or a “non-violent misdemeanor” under Florida Statute 1006.13(c), the behavior will be discussed by school administration and the SRO to determine if there is an appropriate student discipline remedy in lieu of criminal prosecution. If the parties agree that the offense should be handled by the school, the offense will be handled by OCPS. Notwithstanding the foregoing, nothing herein shall preclude the Law Enforcement Agency’s discretion to conduct a criminal investigation.

With respect to a “petty act of misconduct” which rises to the level of criminal behavior or a non-violent misdemeanor, consideration should be given to alternatives to arrest and the filing of a criminal complaint, when appropriate, including the use of civil citations in accordance with Section 985.12, Florida Statutes. Seeking alternatives to arrests requires the use of collaborative decision-making between the law enforcement officer and the school administrator. When practical and reasonable, law enforcement officers and school administrators will, consult prior to a student’s arrest for crimes occurring on school property, to determine the best course of action. The law enforcement officer will make the final decision as to whether a student will be arrested or referred to alternative sanctions (e.g. juvenile civil citation). Behavior that rises to the level of a felony offense under Florida Statutes is not included herein.
 
All parties involved in school discipline decisions shall consider the surrounding circumstances including the age, family history, prior criminal conduct, mental health issues, disability or special education status, wishes of the victim and other factors that may have influenced the behavior of the student, the degree of harm caused to the victim and the student’s willingness to repair the harm.

5. Consultations  with  Law  Enforcement  –  Role of School Administrator.  SBOC commits to provide adequate training of school principals and their designees and encourages administrators to talk to the student and evaluate the unique surrounding circumstances in each case. In situations where a student alleges that they are the victim of sexual battery, molestation or other sexual abuse, by a fellow student or SBOC employee, the school administration may briefly discuss the allegation with the victim to ensure that the victim is safe and not at further risk. The school administration shall not conduct in depth interviews with either the alleged victim or perpetrator until law enforcement has been notified and has had an opportunity to conduct interviews. The parties acknowledge that interview techniques as well as the number of interviews conducted with a child can affect the validity of a child’s testimony as well as the prosecutibility of a case.

Before referring a student to law enforcement, the school principal or their designee shall:

STEP 1. Consult the Code of Student Conduct:

The school principal or their designee should determine the consequences and interventions to be used consistent with the Code of Student Conduct and/or Discipline Matrix, including the Restorative Justice program and shall consult with the SRO.

STEP 2. Consult with Law Enforcement:

If a reasonable person could believe that a criminal act occurred, the school principal or designee shall consult with law enforcement. A consultation does not mean that an arrest is necessary.

STEP 3. Collaborating with Law Enforcement to Resolve the Situation:

The school and the SRO shall determine if the student’s conduct can be adequately addressed using various school-based behavior interventions, Restorative Justice Program, or community-based programs. If further support is needed but not available at the school level, the school principal or designee may call the district designee for additional guidance.

Emergency and other situations may arise that require the immediate involvement of law enforcement. In such instances, school officials and law enforcement should confer after the situation has been diffused, but, if feasible, before a civil citation is issued or an arrest is made, and follow the process outlined in this Agreement to ensure the most effective means of discipline is being employed.
 

6. Consultations with Law Enforcement – Role of Officer. The law enforcement agencies in this Agreement commit to provide adequate training of SROs or other law enforcement officers that may be in frequent contact with Orange County Public Schools. Before making an arrest of a student for misconduct on school grounds, school transportation or during a school sponsored or related event, a law enforcement officer shall consider the steps below.

Behavior that could be defined as a "petty act of misconduct" under Florida Statute 1006.13(c) will be discussed by school administration and the SRO to determine if there is an appropriate student discipline remedy in lieu of criminal prosecution. If the parties agree that the offense should be handled by the school, the offense will be handled by OCPS. Notwithstanding the foregoing, nothing herein shall preclude the Law Enforcement Agency’s discretion to conduct a criminal investigation.

7. Criminal Activity. If criminal activity is suspected, the primary investigative party will be the Law Enforcement Agency. The status and findings of the investigation, where permitted by Florida law and the law enforcement agency's policy, will be communicated with school administration. A school investigation may be done concurrently, but shall not interfere with law enforcement activities.

STEP 1. Consult with the school principal or their designee:

The SRO and school staff shall consider the Code of Student Conduct and/or Discipline Matrix in determining the best course of action. Included in this determination  should be an evaluation of whether the situation can be resolved by consequences within the school discipline system (such as detention, suspension, or interventions).

STEP 2. Evaluate the situation:

The SRO and school staff shall consider all the surrounding circumstances to determine if the incident rises to the level of a felony or poses a serious threat to school safety that necessitates the filing of criminal charges or an arrest. The SRO shall also consider whether the alleged victim of a crime or the victim’s parents are requesting that criminal charges be filed. If so, the officer shall proceed to Step 6. If the behavior falls into the category of non-violent misdemeanor, continue to the steps below. If the behavior is non-criminal or otherwise minor and not rising to any of these levels, it may be referred back to the school by the SRO for consequences and interventions.

STEP 3. Issue a warning:

A determination should be made of whether the situation can be resolved with an intervention approach that may include the officer talking to the student about their behavior; a verbal warning or taking the student out of the situation in order to cool off or other intervention.

STEP 4. Talk to the parents or guardians:

A determination should be made of whether the situation can be resolved by the officer talking to the student’s parents or guardians.
 
STEP 5. Consider alternatives with school principal or designee:

Consider whether the student can be held accountable through school-based interventions, the Restorative Justice Program, or community-based programs.

STEP 6. Law Enforcement Discretion to Issue a Civil Citation

After considering all of the above options, the officer may consider issuing a civil citation, filing criminal charges against the student or making an arrest . The officer must ensure that the school principal or their designee is notified of any school- based arrest.

STEP 7. Contraband

All contraband must be placed in the care and custody of the law enforcement personnel of the Department that initiates the arrest. School personnel shall immediately, or as quickly thereafter as is reasonable, transfer all illegal items such as firearms, knives, BB guns, contraband or illegal substances to law enforcement.

8. Discretion of Law Enforcement. Nothing in this Agreement is intended to limit the discretion of law enforcement. Officers responding to an incident or consulting with school officials are encouraged to use their discretion in determining the best course of action, especially when using alternatives to arrest. Civil Citations should be utilized, if appropriate. While the option to use the criminal justice system is available for many incidents, the totality of the circumstances, including the wishes of the victim or the parents or guardians of a juvenile, should be taken into consideration and any less punitive alternatives that ensure the safety of the school community should be considered.

9. Parental Notification. In addition to the required notification of parents and legal guardians by the law enforcement officer taking the student into custody, school principals or their designee are also responsible for an additional notification of parents and legal guardians upon a school-based arrest of their child.

10. Training. Parties will ensure that members of their respective agencies, especially those directly interacting with students and making discipline or arrest decisions, are trained in the content of this Agreement. Training and implementation for existing parties should be an on-going process and any new officers, employees, agents, representatives, contractors or subcontractors whose work relates to this Agreement should be trained as they are hired.

11. Data Collection and Oversight. Data reflecting all school-based arrests, referrals to law enforcement, and filing of criminal complaints and disaggregated by location of arrest/school, charge, arresting agency, gender, age, race/ethnicity, disability and ESL status is collected by the SBOC and Department of Juvenile Justice. Data reflecting the number and nature of incidents of misbehavior is also collected by the SBOC.

Notwithstanding  any  provision  to  the  contrary  within  this  Agreement,  the  parties under this Agreement shall fully comply with all applicable State or federal law or
 
regulation regarding the confidentiality of student information and records. Each party shall maintain its own respective records and documents  associated with this Agreement in accordance with the records retention requirements applicable to public records. Each party shall be responsible for compliance with any public documents request served upon it pursuant to Section 119.07, Florida Statutes, and any resultant award of attorney’s fees for non-compliance with that law.

12. Information Sharing. In accordance with FERPA and the federal regulations issued pursuant to FERPA, Florida Statute 1002.221 allows SBOC, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the State Attorney’s Office and Law Enforcement to enter into an interagency agreement to share information without the written consent of the student and parents of the student.  The parties agree that this collaborative agreement is meant to incorporate this provision of statute.

Each party agrees that said information provided in furtherance of this agreement is intended solely for the use of determining appropriate programs and services for each juvenile and their family, or to coordinate the delivery of programs and services. The parties understand that by statute, said shared information from the SBOC, is not admissible in any court proceeding prior to a dispositional hearing unless written consent is provided by a parent or other responsible adult on behalf of the child.

13. Law Enforcement Cooperation. It is recognized that collaboration and cooperation between law enforcement agencies can bring about positive change within the communities that they serve. To that end, the OCPS District Police and the law enforcement agencies that are part of this cooperative agreement commit to working together in an effort to enhance community trust and mitigate the conditions that lead to juvenile arrests.

14. Administrative and Judicial Hearings. Consistent and engaged involvement by students in the learning process is critical to their success in attaining and sustaining educational objectives. Where as much as practical, parties agree to collaborate in limiting the impact of administrative and judicial hearings on an individual student’s participation in educational programming. When possible, administrative and judicial hearings will be scheduled during times in which the student is not actively participating in classroom and/or school related activities.

15. Entirety of Agreement. This document incorporates and includes all prior negotiations, correspondence, conversations, agreements and understandings applicable to  the matters contained herein and the parties agree that there are no commitments, agreements or understandings concerning the subject matter of this Agreement that are not contained in this document. Accordingly, the parties agree that no deviation from the terms hereof shall be predicated upon any prior representations or agreements, whether oral or written. Terms contained within School Resource Officer agreements shall not be considered to be in conflict with this agreement.

16. Withdrawal from the Agreement by a Party. A party may terminate their participation in the Agreement by providing written notice to all parties to this Agreement of their intent to withdraw thirty (30) days from the date of the letter. An updated Agreement reflecting that change shall be provided to all parties.
 
17. Notice. When any of the parties desire to give notice to the other, such notice must be in writing, sent by U.S. Mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the party for whom it is intended at the place last specified; the place for giving notice shall remain such until it is changed by written notice in compliance with the provisions of this paragraph.