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‘So much life ahead of them’: Leon County Schools works to curb aggressive student behavior

Superintendent Rocky Hanna says there is no tolerance for violence in Leon County Schools.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 8:03 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Multiple fights on and around Leon County Schools in the last month have some community members concerned. Superintendent Rocky Hanna says there is no tolerance for violence in Leon County Schools.

One fight happened off the campus of Lincoln High School and ended with a student being detained; viewers sent video of another alleged fight on Godby High School’s campus.

LCS is working with other agencies to try to reach students before anything turns violent.

“Kids are struggling. They’re struggling with mental health issues, with a lot of trauma. They get anxious, a lot of anxiety. And sometimes they express that anxiety with physical aggression. We have zero tolerance for violence on our campuses,” Superintendent Hanna said.

Hanna confirmed there has been an uptick in aggressive behavior by students with everyone now back at school in person, which he says follows nationwide trends.

Hanna added that the findings in the Leon County Sheriff’s Office’s Anatomy of a Homicide report were concerning.

“Most of the acts are occurring between the ages of 15 and 24, our student population,” Hanna said.

His comments were echoed by LCSO Sheriff Walt McNeil in December of 2021, who spoke about the importance of connecting with the younger community.

“One of the things we have to change the narrative about is, it’s okay for a family member and for these children to get into counseling,” Sheriff McNeil told WCTV.

At the Leon County Commission meeting in December, McNeil requested Commissioners create a Commission on the Status of Men and Boys to deal with the issue of violence.

The County Commission unanimously voted to create the group; the City Commission will take up the issue at their meeting next Wednesday.

Hanna said LCS has been proactive on the issue, bringing in local leaders, including Sheriff McNeil, Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell, and State Attorney Jack Campbell for student assemblies. They give students an opportunity to have their voices heard, but also teach about consequences.

“They have so much life ahead of them,” Hanna said. “Job One for me as school superintendent is to try to keep all children safe from harm. But we try to counsel with those kids, we try to work with those kids to find out what is at the root of those problems, why do you have this pent-up aggression, and for them to start using their words instead of turning to violence.”

Hanna added that many students could use an adult advocate in their lives, and LCS is always welcoming new people to come mentor.

“There’s no greater satisfaction you can get than knowing you’re helping a young person,” Hanna said.

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