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Department of Education says DCPS is still under-reporting crimes in new letter to Superintendent

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Education believes Duval County Schools is still underreporting crimes that occur on school grounds.

That’s according to a new letter sent to Duval’s Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene Monday.

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In that letter, FDOE suggests the district is violating state law.

Duval isn’t alone.

Five school districts received these letters.

They all stem from a grand jury report looking into school safety.

The letter sent Monday alleges school officials continue to violate state law by, “Systemically underreporting incidents of criminal activity to the Florida Department of Education”.

The grand jury report released in late August found DCPS staff failed to report over 2,000 crimes to the SESIR Database.

Instead, the report found school personnel would talk to or call law enforcement about incidents without actually reporting the crimes to the database.

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Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson said he’s not surprised the district may still be having compliance issues.

“It’s understandable that if you create an environment where there’s underreporting that that is going to continue for some period of time. It’s not going to be resolved overnight,” said Carson.

However, after the grand jury report, we were told by Darryl Willie, Chair of the Duval County School Board, that most of the issues raised in the report had been addressed.

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“Whenever we get a report like that, we want to see what actions we can take or what actions we’ve already taken — and honestly with this report we got, there was a lot of action that’s already taken place,” said Willie on Aug. 25.

The district doubled down in an emailed statement Tuesday, claiming the district self-reported the errors in its data and that procedures and errors have been corrected.

“Because of this collaboration with the state, we are confident that our current procedures are legally sound, and we welcome the state’s continued review,” said a DCPS spokesperson.

But the new letter suggests problems persist.

For Yissel Calvo, whose son in 10th grade, the possibility DCPS is still missing the mark with its crime reporting is cause for concern.

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“I mean, we have no idea of how much really goes on behind those doors and what we can hear, but it would be really good for somebody to actually do something about it,” said Calvo.

Duval parent Bishop Sharpe, whose daughter is also in tenth grade, hopes the state and school district can work together to ensure the safest environment for students.

“Cause the schools, they do need to report it to the state and the state and the city need to come together with an agreement on how to solve this issue and if not, it’s going to keep getting worse,” said Sharpe.

Carson said if the district doesn’t get in line, consequences for leadership could be severe.

“They could be removed from office and that is a possibility, but hopefully that won’t happen because to restart things is always problematic,” said Carson.

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The Florida Department of Education requested an in-person meeting with Superintendent Diana Greene next week, to investigate what it characterized as ‘major concerns’.

The district is also coming under fire from a local parent as a result of the grand jury report.

In a lawsuit filed in state court last week a local mother claims the failures of the school district and former school police chief directly led to her daughter being permanently disabled in a shooting at a high school football game.

We’ll delve into the claims in that lawsuit coming up on Action News Jax at 10 and 11.