It’s a sick and sad testament to society when an alleged serial bully’s right to education trumps a victim’s right to be safe at school, but that is clearly what has happened in a northern Florida school district.
Middle school student Aria Jewett had her head bashed in and suffered a fractured skull during a brutal beating at the hands of another 14-year-old student near the Oceanway Middle School in Jacksonville in March while another group of students stood around and did nothing except videotape the horrific assault.
After Jewett’s assault, the attacker was arrested for aggravated assault and finally expelled from the middle school.
CBS News reported the attacker apparently has quite the collection of other videotaped beatings of students, but according to Jewett, school officials never did anything about the bully.
As the case progressed through the juvenile court, Florida circuit Judge Henry Davis ruled the bully girl was banned from attending any public school in the entire county.
“This child is a threat to all of the children at any school. The injunction is a permanent injunction barring this child from returning to any public school in Duval County,” Davis ruled, according to CBS.
However, the school district’s superintendent Nikolai Vitti and an appellate court disagreed with Davis, and the bully may be back in school Monday.
According to the CBS interview:
“I don’t think we should use the bad decisions children make outside of schools as an example or scapegoat to make a message,” Vitti said.
Nikolai Vitti says public education is a constitutional right, and all 130,000 students in Duval County’s public schools deserve second, even third chances.
“I believe the perpetrator should be provided the same opportunity,” Vitti said. “It’s a tough decision, but my role as superintendent is to support the law and enforce the law.”
There is no “right to education” in the U.S. Constitution, so here is Article IX, Section 1 of the Florida State Constitution on Education. See if you can determine where a “right” to education outweighs the “right” to be safe and secure at school.
Public education.–The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require [Emphasis added].
Watch the CBS News report here (Warning: scenes from the videotaped beating of Jewett may be difficult to watch):