Vitti says he will own the problems at First Coast (rough draft)

First let me tell you that could not have been easy. The community meeting at First coast was both contentious and passionate at times. There are a lot of very frustrated people who sincerely care about First Coast and that’s a credit to the neighborhood. School Board member Wright and Superintendent Vitti had to know the meeting had the potential to devolve into something ugly and a couple of times it seemed to.

I would also like to say that I alerted both Wright and Vitti to a lot of the issues at First Coast last fall. Now I didn’t cover the escalating violence but I did bring numerous staff concerns to their attention, including Brennan saying that First Coast parents were vile, something he vehemently denied saying.

Vitti to his credit seemed to walk back the glowing appraisal that he gave Brennan last week when he said he was one of the district’s best. Tonight he said he wasn’t aware of some of the problems and the severity of others, he gave himself some wiggle room that I sincerely hope he uses.

Despite Vitti’s claim of a shallow principal bench as a reason for keeping Brennan (what a ringing endorsement that had to be), he did change 3 high school principals last week and 120 overall in two and a half years, I don’t see how Brennan can come back from this. the community has turned against him and even the data doesn’t really support him continuing on.

At the end of the night Vitti said he will own the poor culture at First Coast and work to fix it. The solution was obvious to the hundreds of parents and community members in attendance and that’s to remove Brennan. If he will listen to them or instead try and put a band aide the problem remains to be seen. 

12 Replies to “Vitti says he will own the problems at First Coast (rough draft)”

  1. I was a member of the charter faculty at First Coast. I taught in the classroom for 16 years, and I worked as Literacy Coach for 2. As such, I have seen leaders come and go, and I have seen the destruction some left behind. Brennan inherited som problems which he thought could be fixed by doing what he did at Westside High (Forrest). However, these intimidation techniques had not worked at FC. The better choice for principal at First Coast would have been Terry Connor (former principal at Oceanway Middle School). He was well-loved and respected by the community and could have fixed problems left from the last two leaders. However, until changes are made in the way Vitti views discipline, problems like those at FC are going to become more and more common place at other high schools. I don't understand why a few students are allowed to keep an entire class from learning. Every teacher could give 3-5 names of students who disrupt classes enough to affect the learning of the rest of their students. If Vitti really wants to improve school grades, he will remove that small percentage from the schools and establish permanent alternative schools for repeat offenders. These schools could have specially trained teachers and discipline coaches to work with these students. Not only would school grades increase, crime would decrease. It's time to admit all students will not be brain surgeons and give all students what they need to be contributing citizens. This is real differentiated instruction. Until this happens, my grand-daughters won't be going to public middle or high schools in Duval County.

    1. Here's the statute 1003.32. It's called Appendix G in the teacher's contract. Use it. I do. I wrote up a student 5X this past year and he never rec'd any consequence, except for his permanent removal from my classroom.

      (4) A teacher may remove from class a student whose behavior the teacher determines interferes with the teacher’s ability to communicate effectively with the students in the class or with the ability of the student’s classmates to learn. Each district school board, each district school superintendent, and each school principal shall support the authority of teachers to remove disobedient, violent, abusive, uncontrollable, or disruptive students from the classroom.
      (5) If a teacher removes a student from class under subsection (4), the principal may place the student in another appropriate classroom, in in-school suspension, or in a dropout prevention and academic intervention program as provided by s. 1003.53; or the principal may recommend the student for out-of-school suspension or expulsion, as appropriate. The student may be prohibited from attending or participating in school-sponsored or school-related activities. The principal may not return the student to that teacher’s class without the teacher’s consent unless the committee established under subsection (6) determines that such placement is the best or only available alternative. The teacher and the placement review committee must render decisions within 5 days of the removal of the student from the classroom.
      (6)(a) Each school shall establish a placement review committee to determine placement of a student when a teacher withholds consent to the return of a student to the teacher’s class. A school principal must notify each teacher in that school about the availability, the procedures, and the criteria for the placement review committee as outlined in this section.
      (b) The principal must report on a quarterly basis to the district school superintendent and district school board each incidence of a teacher’s withholding consent for a removed student to return to the teacher’s class and the disposition of the incident, and the superintendent must annually report these data to the department.
      (c) The Commissioner of Education shall annually review each school district’s compliance with this section, and success in achieving orderly classrooms, and shall use all appropriate enforcement actions up to and including the withholding of disbursements from the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund until full compliance is verified.
      (d) Placement review committee membership must include at least the following:
      1. Two teachers, one selected by the school’s faculty and one selected by the teacher who has removed the student.
      2. One member from the school’s staff who is selected by the principal.

    2. I would love to see that teacher's upcoming evaluation at First Coast. Brennen doesn't take suggestion well…especially from teachers

  2. The ball is clearly in Vitti's court now. He will continue to own the problems at First Coast until he gets an adequate replacement for Brennen.

    As for that shallow applicant pool for secondary principals, I guess there are no intelligent, organized people in the District, with half-way decent people skills?

    1. Oh I do believe there are plenty of intelligent, organized people in the District… but they do not have any Board members in their pocket.

  3. In order to be a successful principal, you have to be willing to stand up to Vitti on important issues. I don't know that we have that many people willing to do that.

    1. He was able to manipulate the back half of the school grade with scheduling. Like dumping kids in honors and AP who had no business being in there. Dual enrollment too. This SLS DE is strictly for the back half of the grade.

      A perfect example….Brennen literally sacrificed, on the 'Back Half Alter' these two adjunct instructors from Embry Riddle last year. There was no enrollment criteria for these two Dual Enrollment Aeronautical Classes, so he dumped every kid who couldn't earn him a point any other way into those classes. The instructors were freaking out. You won't ever see that opportunity again offered to the DCPS. This little scheme was hatched at the district level, 5th Floor.

  4. Since Brennan was apparently so good at Forrest high School, where are the figures to back up this claim?

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