Sheriff Misses the Old Days When Students Could Have the “Cheeks of Their Ass Torn Off” for Misbehaving

The sheriff announced a new approach to school discipline at a press conference held in front of the county jail.
Sheriff Ivey flanked by School Board Chairman Matt Susin announces changes to the district’s school discipline policy.(Facebook/Brevard County Sheriff's Office)

A Florida sheriff says the reason his county’s school district has struggled to address behavioral problems among its students is because kids aren’t scared to “have the cheeks of their ass torn off” for causing trouble in class.

But Sheriff Wayne Ivey, of Brevard County, promised that with the help of the school district’s newly elected conservative leadership, which ran on the promise to end so-called “woke” policies in its schools, these students will no longer go unpunished.

“[Students are] not worried about getting in trouble,” Ivey said, announcing a new disciplinary code during a press conference held in front of the Brevard county jail Monday. “They know nothing’s gonna happen to them. They know they’re not going to be given after-school detention, they’re not going to be suspended. They’re not going to be expelled or like in the old days they’re not gonna have the cheeks of their ass torn off for not doing right in class.”


Ivey was joined by bus union representative Delores Varney, who said bus drivers and other support staff have been regularly subjected to violence on buses, including being bitten and choked. Ivey, who claimed that violence and threats of violence have prompted some teachers to quit, said that while only a few students have made these threats, they are responsible for “messing up” the institution for everyone else.

“We gotta get to these kids before they get to me here at this jail. So starting right now, it’s a brand new day folks, where school discipline is going to be put back in place,” Ivey said. “If you’re a little snot that’s coming to our classes to be disruptive, you might want to find someplace else to go to school because we’re going to be your worst nightmare starting right now.”

Ivey’s plan has the support of newly-elected members of the school board, who came into power in November after voters ousted incumbents who favored more inclusionary policies for students. Last month, the conservative majority reversed trans-inclusionary policies and voted to replace their district’s superintendent of nearly 30 years.

While none of the leaders at the press conference clarified what exactly the new disciplinary policies will entail, new school board Chairman Matt Susin said he will be part of an emergency meeting with the state attorney and the local school-related unions to determine a new disciplinary direction for the district. No media outlets were invited to ask questions at the press conference.

Brevard County has become a prime battleground in the national culture war over what’s taught and tolerated in schools, as conservative parents and activists push back against inclusive policies and curricula. After the introduction of policies that granted students the right to use the restrooms that match their gender identity, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and the conservative group Moms For Liberty (known for supporting the banning of LGBT- affirming books and protesting pro-LGBTQ policies in schools nationwide) whipped up resistance to so-called “woke” education policies in the state.

The newly-elected slate of conservative school board members in Brevard County has created a rift between new leaders and long-time members of the board. Current board member Jennifer Jenkins told Florida Today that while she agreed that discipline was an issue within the district, the issue is how the current policy is implemented, not the policy as a whole. She argued that it doesn’t need to be replaced outright.

“Student discipline has always been a problem. You could have taken that press conference and inserted it into any county at any time and it would have been applicable,” she told the outlet. “This is just a show and a stunt. If you actually felt this was a problem, they could have done something about it for years.”

Florida’s Department of Education has reported that Brevard County Schools have struggled with student discipline, according to local TV news station WKMG. During the 2020-2021 school year, the district’s nearly 71,000 students were given nearly 7,000 in-school and out-of-school suspensions. At least 435 students were transferred to alternate education settings, 139 students were physically restrained, and 10 were expelled, according to the outlet.

The Brevard Federations of Teachers signaled its support for the district taking a more proactive approach to badly behaved students, but stopped short of supporting Ivey outright, adding it didn’t agree with the way the sheriff described the new approach of his choice to hold the press conference outside a jail.

“These changes must be ones that help, not harm; solve issues, not create more. These student-driven solutions should result in a safe environment where students can learn, and teachers can teach,” the union said in a statement.

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