Lee Schools delays safety presentation

Reporter: Peter Fleischer
Published: Updated:

A presentation to discuss school safety at the Lee County School District has been canceled, leaving questions unanswered while disciplinary data and safety concerns grow.

Almost six weeks ago, in mid-February, the district declined multiple WINK News requests with Superintendent Chris Bernier or anyone else who could speak on the matter, saying it would be “inappropriate” for staff to discuss safety information because a presentation was planned for March 26.

But on the day of the presentation, the district informed WINK that the presentation is delayed and no target date has been set.

The School District is aware of the data and addressing it. With the input of school administrators, teachers and community members we have teams developing supports and interventions. A presentation to the School Board of the ideas generated is anticipated to take place March 26th so it is inappropriate to discuss this information with the media before it is shared with the Board. We invite you and the public to attend the Board Briefing when this issue will be discussed. Rob Spicker, Lee Schools Spokesperson

SESIR data- school environmental safety incident reporting – tracks the most disruptive incidents that take place in Florida schools. WINK’s interview requests occurred while reporting for an exclusive investigation that revealed, during the 2023 school year, Lee County saw more than a seven percent increase in SESIR incidents compared to the year before.

In the only meeting where they have addressed the data, board members voiced concerns.

“One of the things that comes up is culture. One of the reasons teachers are leaving right now: discipline,” Lee School Board member Sam Fisher said during a February 21st meeting. “It’s one of the things I hear about constantly.”

“I don’t know how to you other than to just be transparent,” Superintendent Bernier stated during that same meeting. “Our goal is that as our population rises, it’s not enough to just see our numbers remain the same.”

WINK has asked the district for more information about who is on these teams that are developing supports and interventions, and how many times they have met while working to find safety solutions. So far, we have not heard back.

The disciplinary issues have continued to increase in the 2024 school year. District data shows the top three most common issues: disruptive behavior, insubordination and skipping, all increased from last year into the fall semester.

We’ll update this story if we receive new information.

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