In light of local incidents that occurred late during the last school year and tragic incidents that happened nationally, Mount Dora Buzz compiled information that may help parents separate fact from fiction about local public school safety. Althoug Mount Dora’s schools are relatively safe compared to others, here are eight things to know as classes resume on August 10.
1. Mount Dora Police has a master key for all Mount Dora public schools to gain access in an emergency, according to M.D.P.D.
2. If a parent is worried about a specific threat to their student or others, they should email the school’s principal, vice principal, school superintendent and school resource officer to create a traceable public record about the specific threat. The same should be done with follow up communications, as public records are required to be preserved by Florida statute and create a trail of the communication. Parents can always call or visit the school, in addition to email.
3. Any time the school learns of a threat or a perceived threat, a Behavior Threat Assessment (B.T.A.) is conducted to determine the threat level and what their response should be.
4. Policies on bullying, as well as grounds for suspension or expulsion, can be found in the District’s Code of Student Conduct."Bullying" is defined in the Code on page 48 as an incident where there is enough substantial evidence that proves the accused willfully and repeatedly exercised power or control over another by systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress. More details about Lake County Schools (LCS) anti-bullying policies can be found at School Board Policy 5517.01.
5. To help reduce the number of fights, LCS expects adult supervision of students at all times, particularly between class periods, and it doesn't allow students to stand idle when they should be in class or headed that way.
6. The State of Florida requires Lake County Public Schools to submit School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting (SESIR) data, including fights and weapons. Physical incidents at the schools fall into different classifications.
“Fighting”is defined in the Code (page 48) as a situation when two or more persons mutually participate in the use of force or physical violence that requires either physical intervention or results in injury requiring first-aid or medical attention.
"Physical altercations" are defined in the Code (page 47) as physical conflicts between two or more persons that do not require physical restraint or cause injury and are stopped upon verbal command. These are not considered fights by the Code.
7. LCS does require its trained safety officers to intervene in fights with minimal force. Most LCS employees are not required to intervene in a fight, but they are allowed to do so. See School Board Policy 5630.
8. In the case of an emergency at a school, parents should refer to LCS Facebook page and local media for information and updates.
Below is a chart of data provided to Mount Dora Buzz from Lake County Schools comparing incidents at Mount Dora Middle School, other LCS middle schools and Mount Dora High School during the 2021-2022 school year.
ABOVE: 2021-2022 LCS middle school incidents, and Mount Dora High incidents