ANJ Investigates

INVESTIGATES: ‘I want to throw up;’ Parents complaining about fights, brawls at Fruit Cove Middle

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — St. Johns County has the No. 1 rated school district in the state, bringing thousands of families to Northeast Florida, but some parents say it’s not making the grade due to the number of fights and brawls at Fruit Cove Middle School.

Action News Jax Ben Becker obtained a dozen videos from parents with children going to FCMS on Race Track Road in Julington Creek. The videos show fights inside the school and off the property as well. Action News Jax blurred the faces of the children to protect their privacy.


“I want to throw up,” said FCMS parent Trish McNulty, whose daughter Brianna is a sixth grader at the school.

McNulty said her child is a victim of bullying. She posted screenshots of social media messages that she said are from an eighth-grade boy. The messages contain vulgar language and even a threat. It reads, “IK high schoolers that’ll kill yo bf and u with one phone call.”

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McNulty also sent Becker Ring doorbell video of the bullies approaching her front door to pick a fight.

“What made you reach out to me?” asked Becker.

“You are the only person who has cared enough to reach back out and ask, ‘What is going on here?’ when you saw my post,” McNulty said.

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Becker took McNulty’s concerns to the St. Johns County School District and Paul Abbatinozzi, Senior Director for School Services.

“Would you send your kids to Fruit Cove?” Becker asked. “100 percent,” Abbatinozzi said.

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“I’m seeing some normalization now that we are back,” Abbatinozzi said.

But the McNultys tell Becker a lot of the fights are happening off-campus including at nearby Plantation Park, so they are not reported by the school.

According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, since 2019 there have been 13 calls for service to the park for what’s termed “juvenile problems,” but it’s unclear how many are tied to FCMS.

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“I’m not going to stand here and say every day is perfect, but I will tell you we will address situations,” Abbatinozzi said.

As for McNulty, she has a message for the St. Johns County School District. “To school administrators, I’d say, ‘Wake up and go find another job.”

Some FCMS parents plan to attend the school district’s next board meeting on May 9th with the message, “The fights have to stop.”

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