My View: We need to enforce classroom discipline at Volusia County Schools

Donna Brosemer, a candidate running for the Volusia County School Board District 4 seat, writes that the Volusia County Schools Code of Student Conduct doesn't means anything if it isn’t enforced.

  • By
  • | 1:00 p.m. May 16, 2024
  • Ormond Beach Observer
  • Opinion
  • Share

We’ve all been there. We’re in a quiet restaurant with a spouse or friend, trying to chat, and at a nearby table, a child is having a tantrum. The parents begin to negotiate:

“What do you want? Do you want ketchup?”

“Yes, you can have some of my French fries.”

No change. More screaming. Then an attempt at boundaries.

“No, you can’t have dessert until you eat at least some of your dinner.”

Still more screaming. The desperate parents finally give in, and give the little darling some dessert, so they can eat in peace. No consequences.

A third-grader tells his teacher to f---k off. Policy requires the teacher to follow the many pages and dozens of steps of “restorative justice” to try to talk the disrespectful little person into behaving better. He doesn’t. He has just learned that he will only be lectured. No consequences.

The third-grader is now in eighth grade and is pushing students and throwing chairs. The teacher sends a discipline referral to the principal, who then tosses it because referrals are capped to ensure a higher school grade. The chair thrower is sent back to class. No consequences.

Now the chair thrower is in high school. He has learned that he can keep pushing the envelope without pushback. He wanders around the room during class, talking to friends, shouting across the room, moving furniture, swearing at the teacher.

Teacher tries discipline referral. See above for outcome.

Then college. At Ivy League universities, administrators watched encampments build slowly, over days or weeks, and looked the other way. When the encamped students demanded special accommodations in both “humanitarian aid” and in random policy demands, administrators pulled out their long list of restorative justice negotiating steps. No consequences.

Blue uniforms were finally called and began arresting those disruptive trespassers and vandalizers.


Then these products of restorative justice started whining about the damage a criminal record would do to their future job prospects, and they demanded no consequences, which they had never before experienced. This is what they look like.

School districts — teachers, specifically — are not the parents of these kids. They are in the no-man’s-land of having to navigate a mountain of laws, rules, statutes, and policies to deal with them, while having no real authority to control the classroom. Parents of disruptive students most often call the school to yell at the principal if the teacher attempts to control the behavior of their disruptive child. The teacher is then overruled at best, or ironically disciplined, at worst. Who pays the price?

Teachers choose their profession out of a desire to give to the next generation — the gift of critical thinking, and the fundamental skills that will provide the foundation for success. They can’t teach in a combat zone.

Students go to school for the same reason teachers teach: to learn the lessons that will give them a foundation for life’s success. They can’t learn in a combat zone. Our consistently low proficiency scores, that have hovered at or near 50% in both English and math for decades, prove the point.

The Volusia County Schools Code of Student Conduct is 25 pages long. None of it means anything if it isn’t enforced. One school board member shrugged off a workshop proposal about dress codes, saying simply, “The principals won’t do that.”

That isn’t okay. The board’s job is to set policy. The administration’s job is to implement and enforce those policies. If they refuse or otherwise fail, it’s the board’s job to follow through with repercussions for that failure.

Parental support is key. School board members have said publicly that they can’t send a student home for breaking the rules, because the parent might have to miss work to supervise their child.

The district is neither a parent nor a babysitter. If a parent misses work one day because his child misbehaved, maybe that parent will enforce the conduct rules too.

Exceptional Student Education (ESE) kids present a separate and unique challenge. Many ESE kids, with some additional support, do very well in a modified traditional setting.

Those who do not, who require a setting that can’t be reasonably provided by a public school, may do better in an environment that’s specifically equipped to meet their needs. Some behavioral, emotional, and mental health issues should be referred to professionals for treatment. Teachers are not therapists, schools are not equipped to provide therapy, nor should they. The district’s mission is education.

A civilized society begins at home, is reinforced through K-12, develops in college, and is then a gift to the world. Volusia County Schools is a critical part of that equation so that we never see our kids destroying public property on the 6 p.m. news. It starts at the top, by enforcing classroom discipline — now.

Donna Brosemer is a candidate running for Volusia County School Board District 4. A former lobbyist, Brosemer has 30 years of experience working in public policy and has served on higher education state boards.


Latest News


Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning local news.