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The Leon school board agrees to fund a new men and boys council to address local gun violence

A group of men and women sit behind a dais during a Leon school board meeting
Craig Moore
WFSU Public Media
Leon County School Board listens to community and faculty members speak at the School Board Meeting (October 12, 2021).

Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil’s upstart men and boys council is getting another $70,000, this time from the Leon County School District.

The school board agreed to the funding Tuesday, after previously expressing support for the council, but also concerns about committing recurring money to the effort. So far this school year, about 10 students have been arrested for bringing guns to school.

According to a 2021 report on local gun violence compiled and released by the Sheriff's office, most of the perpetrators and victims of shootings are Black men and boys between 15 and 23 years old. McNeil has made addressing the city’s gun violence a top priority.

“A lot of these kids, unfortunately, are not attending school or have dropped out of school, or their attendance is very sketchy, or they’ve been expelled from school. So, we need to share information among all the stakeholders, without violating any privacy rights of our kids, to figure out who is at risk, here," said Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna in an interview last month with WFSU.

During an interview earlier this month about the council, and the gun violence issue, McNeil said the council will work with parents of at-risk students to help connect families to social services and other resources.

The school board's participation and funding agreement means the council now has about $350,000 on hand. The city and county have also agreed to be funding partners.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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