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Battling behavior problems in school

by: Leslie Coursey Updated:


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Tommy Dixon is a dad who believes it's important for children to have good influences in their lives.

"It's very, very important," he said. "It goes back to the old days of the village raising the kids."

That village could get a little bit bigger if Duval County School Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti gets his way.

"Historically, we know that we've had challenges regarding discipline," Vitti said.

He wants to make it easier for kids with mental health issues to get help.

"We realize that today, children are bringing so many issues and problems with them to the classroom, to where teachers can't even get into reading, math, science, and writing," Vitti said.

Special Section: Back to School

His plan would bring psychologists and behavior specialists to eight schools in the north and northwest areas of Jacksonville. He wants to a hire a school behavior health services director to lead the process.

"We can't continue to ignore the issue," he said.

"Whatever it takes for us to get the kids straight," said Dixon.

He said all you have to do is look at the crime in Jacksonville to know there needs to be some intervention with troubled kids. If they can't get the help they need at home, why not offer it to them at school?

"Some of the kids are good kids, doing nice stuff, and we love them.  But some of them are doing bad stuff, and we still love them, but we're not having it," said Dixon.

The plan is to test the program in the 2015-2016 school year, and if it works, to expand it to more schools in the district.

The program is a partnership with the United Way.  The first year would be paid for with a grant from the Chartrand Foundation.

The school board will vote on the plan next month.

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