Duval Schools Use Discretion in Marijuana Offenses | News

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Duval Schools Use Discretion in Marijuana Offenses
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.  -- A first time offender, if caught with marijuana in Duval County schools likely will lead in discipline, but will not involve a student facing legal consequences.

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The legislature three years ago passed legislation that became law and does not require school districts to report petty acts of misconduct and misdemeanors to police.

Sen. Stephen Wise from Jacksonville sponsored that legislation designed not to bog down law enforcement with minor incidents that happen at schools that give students an arrest record.

"Sometimes you end with it (marijuana) in your pocket or whatever, not selling it, you find it there," said Wise when asked about schools have flexibility in deciding when to arrest a student.

"The question do you ruin a kid's life or do you say, ok, look he's a good kid never caused any trouble in school," Wise said. "What we need to do is have intervention before do an arrest."

Lt. Benny Reagor with Duval School District police says officers in schools use the law in making decisions along with school administrators.

"House Bill 1540 gives officers the discretion in leu of making physical arrest for misdemeanor, the can defer discipline to the principal," said Reagor who added repeat offenders to not get that break.

Students forget that an arrest even if it doesn't lead to prosecution is on their record for life, said Wise.

"You will never be a teacher, never be law enforcement officer," said Wise on the implications of an arrest record.

In Duval, discipline for having marijuana can result in up to a ten day in-school suspension plus requiring a student to attend a drug counseling session with their parents.

In Clay and St. Johns counties matters involving marijuana are referred to law enforcement for disposition, plus the districts have their own policies on how to handle the infractions on a school level.

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