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DCPS Superintendent criticized when school bully story goes national

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Updated: 7/25/2013 8:24 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Backlash has been swift and severe. 
"Vitti is a moron."  "The superintendent is COMPLETELY WRONG."  Those are just two of more than a hundred comments that have been posted on the CBS News website after airing the story of Aria Jewett, an Oceanway Middle School student who was hospitalized after an on-camera beat down by a so-called serial bully.

"I didn't even know it was coming," said Jewett, 14.

Now, after the attacker's arrest and one successful attempt to get her banned from all Duval County public schools, a judge has put a temporary halt on the ban.  The girl seen in cell-phone video pinning Jewett to the ground and beating her mercilessly, is back in class, just not at Oceanway Middle.

Action News obtained the following statement from the suspect's attorney, Bryan Gowdy: "The Duval County Public School system has determined that it can provide a safe and secure enviroment for the child to continue her studies, and she is now back at school."

"I don't think we should use the bad decisions children make outside of school as an example or a scapegoat to make a message," Dr. Nikolai Vitti told CBS News.

Vitti said he believed Jewett's attacker deserves another chance and that she too was entitled to a public education. He's taking a lot of heat for that comment, with viewers saying, "Two people need to be punished over this. The bully and the school superintendent."

Vitti wasn't available for comment Monday. But after reaching out to every single school board member, Action News was able to talk to two.

Board member Jason Fischer reiterated what a school spokeswoman told us, that because this fight happened off school grounds, there's only so much the district can do. 

Board member Paula Wright told us the case shines a light on a much bigger problem. "It's becoming too popular to have students fight and have it shown on a video tape. That's my concern."

Vitti told CBS News, "It's a tough decision but my role as superintendent is to support the law and enforce the law."

Enforcing the law means letting the attacker back in school. But Fischer says they're keeping a close eye on her, and keeping her away from Aria. The district says it has seen no evidence that the suspect is a serial bully, even though Jewett says the 14-year-old girl has been involved in several similar incidents.

Jewett's attorney, T.C. Roberts, says he believes his client is safe now. But she still doesn't want to go to school. He says she's now being used as an example in class, her story being told every time the subject of bullying arises.

"Initially she was afraid to go back to school for fear of being attacked. Now it's more ridicule, shame that they put her through, using her as an example in class," said Roberts.  "This girl has been victimized enough," he said.
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

Fred Thompson - 5/14/2013 2:24 PM
1 Vote
Why is the attacker not in JUVENILE ICARCERATION? This city looks more moronic every day.

TOMMY - 5/14/2013 5:50 AM
3 Votes
Vitti should not allow this pos back in school, stand your ground and be a man or go back to your country. I do not believe he is qualified to be a superintendent. I know he will have pity on this little pos,because he is married to a black!I would put this pos in her burial plot if she would ever touch one of my kids!

Realchange - 5/14/2013 1:54 AM
1 Vote
This is what letting the school board select the Superintendent gets you. They chose to remove the right of the people to decide who should lead the schools in Duval county. The people should fire every school board member, and tell the next bunch that superintendents must now answer to the voters. I can guarntee you if some kid had been shot they wouldn't be defending the person responsible. They would instantly suspend the person permanetly expelling them. Yet they are saying its ok to attack someone outside of school and you will not be punished for it. Considering its fighting she should be put on probation but if it's proven she's done this more than once then even that should be gone. People should vote every member of the school board out . Then inform the new board get rid of the superintendent, or we will recall you and hire someone that will.

Truthbetold - 5/14/2013 12:19 AM
2 Votes
I will work tirelessly to see to it that EVERY school board member is voted out next election unless they fire this certifiable idiot Dr. Nikolai Vitti!! First, he "DEMOTES" a good employee for calling her "OWN" husband a "Red Neck". Now, he wants to allow a "potential murder" back in one of our schools. YOU ARE NO LONGER IN SOUTH FLORIDA MR. Vitti. But, you are certainly welcome to return there!! You are no longer welcome in NORTH FLORIDA!
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