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Carl Jones, Flagler County School Board Candidate: The Live Interview

| July 31, 2018

carl jones flagler county school board

Carl Jones. (© FlaglerLive)

Carl Jones is one of five candidates in two races for Flagler County School Board in the Aug. 28 primary election.

The two school board elections–for District 2 and 4–are non-partisan races: all registered voters in Flagler County are eligible to cast a ballot in the two races–whether registered Democratic, Republican, Independent or from a minor party. (The District 1 seat was also up this year, but incumbent Andy Dance was re-elected without opposition.)


You may cast a vote in both races regardless of the district, the town or the subdivision you live in. The election on Aug. 28 will decide the winner in District 4 between incumbent Trevor Tucker and Paul Anderson because that race has just two candidates. District 2 is a three-way race between incumbent Janet McDonald, John Fischer and Carl Jones. The race in this case would be decided only if a candidate wins better than 50 percent of the vote. Short of that, the top two vote-getters will go on to a run-off, to be decided in the general election on Nov. 6. 

FlaglerLive submitted 11 identical questions to the school board candidates, who replied in writing, with the understanding that some follow-up questions may be asked, and that all exchanges would be on the record. Questions appear in bold, follow-up questions, when necessary, appear in bold and italics, and may be awaiting answers. When a candidate fails to answer a question, that’s noted in red. The questions and follow-ups attempt to elicit precise answers, but the candidates don’t always comply.

School board members serve four-year terms and are paid $33,447 a year.

The Questions in Summary: Quick Links

Carl Jones: The Basics:

Place and Date of Birth: Kansas City, Mo., May 7, 1964.
Current job: United States Air Force-Retired.
Net worth: $1.2 million. Click here for financial disclosure form.
Political affiliation (keeping in mind that school board races are non-partisan): Democrat.
Resumé.
Websites and Social Media: carljonesflaglerctyschoolboardd2.com; Facebook.

1.    What is your vision for public education in Flagler County and how are you uniquely qualified to help enact it within the limitations of the job? If you’re an incumbent, how have you enacted it in your previous years? If you’re a challenger, what have you done to prepare?

My vision is to make educational excellence our top priority by igniting the passion for learning and eradicating the Busy B’s: bullying, bad grades, bad behavior, and boredom. I have been a mentor in the Flagler County schools for over 6 years, sharing with my mentees over 26 years of honorable military service experience and outlining a roadmap to success by building confidence, discipline, positive attitudes, and respect for authority—things I see lacking in our schools.

Eradicating the “Busy B’s” would truly mean Paradise Regained, but in the world of the doable and beyond attractive campaign slogans, what would you do concretely to at least diminish the B’s, beyond mentoring? WHat would you do in policy? What would you change?

I agree! These behaviors are occurring in our schools daily and must be eliminated. Eradicating them is not just an attractive slogan and I have been instructing students how to do this way before my campaign run. Bullying is my number one concern when it comes to students losing their focus with learning and school. It’s this behavior that creates a domino-affect which causes bad grades and bad behavior. Training staff and students at the beginning of each school year will help in identifying and preventing bullying before it starts. Immediate corrective actions once a bully is identified are paramount in addition to parental/guardian involvement. Changing inappropriate behavior requires a disciplined/consistent approach. This is a top-down initiative that requires parental/administrative engagement to eradicate this behavior and should be a measurable goal.

As it is written in the Student Code of Conduct, suffices at this time, the only thing I would do differently is hold those students accountable. This is a learned-behavior, so it can be adjusted. What would I change? Holding the individual accountable. If this had been accomplished state-wide, it would be less of an issue. Granting the parents of a bullied child a voucher to transfer to another school is a ridiculous band aid. It does nothing to address the behavior of the bully as far as I can see. But as it is written into policy, my main focus as a board member is that we ensure the accuser gets the proper positive behavior intervention.

We are trying to get at concrete examples of what it means to hold a student accountable, differently than the way they’re held accountable now: would you return to the days of out of school expulsions? Would you want to bring back an alternative school? How would you want a bully disciplined, beyond generalities?

Implementing Positive Behavioral Intervention (PBI) is the first step to holding an individual accountable but if PBI does not deter a bully from repeating inappropriate behavior then the next step is suspension or expulsion. This must be a consistent act for EVERY incident, no matter who the child is or how great a student he/she is. I am an advocate of alternative schools, for students that just don’t want to conform to public school systems but I would not advocate this for students whose behavior can be adjusted with proper PBI. I am an advocate of in-school suspension being used the way it is designed to be used, not a place to hang out and continue disruptive behavior. Ensuring that he/she knows that future disciplinary actions will be the juvenile justice system.

John Fischer’s answer | Janet McDonald’s answer

2.     Tell us who you are as a person—what human qualities and shortcomings you’ll bring to the board, what your temperament is like: if you’re an incumbent, what do you consider may have been a mistake or a misjudgment on your part in your official capacity—something you’d do over, differently–in the past four years? If you’re a challenger, apply the question to your work or civic involvement.

I grew up in Kansas City, Mo., the youngest of 11 siblings, in a single-parent household.  My mother was a loving mother, supportive and a disciplinarian.  I always envisioned her as a little warrior.  Working two or three jobs and always being there when we needed her, never going a day without a hot meal and a kind word, but when we broke her rules, we were disciplined and told why.  I was rebellious at times, but I was taught right from wrong and when I made mistakes, I took responsibility and learned from them.  I too am a disciplinarian, but I use it as a learning tool and it’s worked very well for me.  As a military veteran, I honed three values that I was taught as a youngster: integrity, doing the right thing even when no one is looking; service before self: always willing to help others in any way you can; and excellence in whatever you do: no one is perfect, but it does not mean you can’t strive for perfection.  Poor planning promotes poor performance.  My human quality is that I am a patient and courteous listener.   My shortcoming is my expectations are sometimes too high and I never accept poor performance.  I grew up in the military in a profession where complacency could get you or your comrades killed so our expectations were off the charts high, I make no excuses for my high expectations.

Here as on the campaign trail, whether in reference to discipline or expectations, you frequently use language fit for battlefields (you go so far here as to link expectations to avoiding battlefield deaths) but less so for schools–unless you think the two are interchangeable. Are they? Understanding that military bravado and rhetoric often gets a pass when applied to civilian settings–and quick applause on the campaign trail–what place does it have in a school setting, let alone on a school board?

I will say this, our schools are now warehouses of fear, children have died in our schools at an alarming rate. This will continue to occur until we have in-place an environment where they can go to learn and not be concerned about whether they will survive the day. Was that a concern when you were a student? It was not mine. Today, we not only train our kids for fire drills, we train them on active shooter drills to help them survive the learning day. Fortunately, we have individuals like me that not only participated in these drills but trained other personnel in these actions. As a member of the board I will ensure that we have the appropriate safety policies in-place and staff trained appropriately to keep unauthorized personnel out. Ensure the responding personnel are equipped with the proper training to not only eliminate the threat but save lives in the process.

By every measure, schools remain the safest places for children–safer than home, car, street, parks and so on. More specifically, out of 1,168 homicides involving students ages 5-18 in 2014-15, just 20 took place at school, 1,148 took place  away from school. The same lopsidedness applies to suicides. Those numbers are mirrored over two decades of such tallies. (See this federal study.) Us in media have done our share to disproportionately report the dangers of schools, to schools’ and students’ detriment, since what you worrisomely refer to as “warehouses of fear” is a projection rather than a reality. Should political candidates like you, particularly candidates running for school board seats (and existing board members of course) not be working to counter the stereotypes of “warehouses of fear” rather than amplifying them? 

Your statistics show that in 2014-15, just 20 homicidal acts occurred in school, 20 too many. I agree that the stats show our schools are safer than home, car, street, etc but today, many of our students are afraid to go to school behind the many school shootings, this is reality, not a projection. 2018 statistic show that we are at 23 shootings since January, that averages 1 shooting a week. This causes school anxiety and depression and our teachers and staff must be aware of it and have measures in-place to confront it. I am prepared to deal with this as a school board member because I accept the fact that students and parents are deeply concerned when their children leave for school, I’m one of them. Parents and students want to be reassured that we are not sitting on our thumbs when it comes to their safety. My counter is to use my experience and security expertise to show parents and students alike that my rhetoric is the fact that I actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to keeping people safe.

John Fischer’s answer | Janet McDonald’s answer

3.     The Flagler school district earned a B for the seventh year in a row. If you’re the incumbent, how do you defend your tenure from reflecting a middling performance, at least in the state’s eyes and in the eyes of families or businesses looking to relocate to Flagler? If you’re the challenger, how to do assess the situation?

The B rating is an above average rating and is satisfying to most but if you know we can be better, then let’s go out there and do better. If our kids graduate, and the school is rated a B, why have I witnessed graduates that can’t read a 9th written exam, that says to me a B-rating means very little to those outside of that normal bell curve when they are averaging ratings.  I have skin in the game, my son is in this system and when he brings home a B, we say good job, but you can do better, and we expect him to try.  Our students would love to bring home that A for the district, but we need to prepare them, and push them to strive and legally stop at nothing to obtain that A rating.  Why settle for second best when you have the potential to be number one?

John Fischer’s answer | Janet McDonald’s answer

4. What are the district’s three brightest successes and the three failures that affect students most? What will be your chief priorities regarding student achievement, within the limits of the doable—that is, four years from now, what can we look back to and say: you were responsible?

Taking the lead in technology initiatives by putting laptops in all student’s hands, creating the Flagship programs, and dual enrollment programs.  In my opinion, the three failures I see are the low graduation rates for African-American and Latino students, lack of communication between the board, parents & students and not giving parents a voice in decisions that affect their children.  I think we can increase our graduation rate by pushing our student to “want” to be successful, not just pass.  Raise the expectation, hold them to it and they will strive to achieve it.  In 2022, we will look back and say, “we did that”, by ensuring teachers, staff & students had all the resources needed to get it done.

The first part of your answer is clear. The second part does not give a concrete sense of what you as a school board member will do that will make a difference in any of these regards–what you will bring to the table, beside high expectation, to reach that goal: what does it mean in everyday learning situations to push students to “want” to be successful? Can you give us an example of how  you would “hold them to it”? What one or two examples of resources for students or faculty are lacking to get it done?

You will be able to hold teachers, parents and students alike if my proposal is adopted by the school board. My proposal would be set milestones and metrics for each (parents, teachers and students) to ensure our students are being guided in the right direction and want to be successful. We will gauge ourselves after each grading period and adjust as necessary, if we are on target we will proceed with the goal of increasing graduation rates with complete buy-in from our students, parents and teachers.

John Fischer’s answer | Janet McDonald’s answer

5.      In 2022, the last year of your tenure, should you win, the district’s half-penny surtax on the sales tax expires. The district will all but certainly seek to renew it. Do you support its renewal? Would you alter its scope and fund different items from those funded now?

I would open it up for discussion but will not support a decision without hearing our constituent’s concerns.  If the community is satisfied that it is not destroying their livelihood and they support its use, I would weigh the issues and make an informed decision at that time.

Do you support the existing tax? If it was to be renewed this year, would you support its renewal under existing terms? Would you change the terms?

Yes, I would support it because we as a community have already grasped that it is needed, it’s not a new tax, it’s a renewal. As a parent, I think it is a small expense if it is being used appropriately. We are facing a time where our children do not feel 100 percent safe in school and school safety is great concern of parents and the community. I would take a closer look at its scope and make my recommendations at the proper time.

John Fischer’s answer | Janet McDonald’s answer

6. The County Commission through the sheriff pay for half the cost of sheriff’s deputies in schools but it doesn’t have to: security is a district responsibility. If Amendment 1 passes and county government revenue drops next year with the expansion of the homestead exemption (which would not affect school revenue), the county may retreat from its 50-50 commitment. If it does, how do you propose making up the difference? If arming staff as opposed to contracting with the sheriff is the more affordable way to go, would you?

I first would attempt to persuade the commission to hold firm to the 50-50 commitment because I think security is the entire community’s responsibility but if they were steadfast on retreating, I would propose accepting a bid on the dormant property the school district owns to finance security for our schools. I would hold firm on my opposition to arming staff, that would never get a Yah vote from me because I don’t believe teachers or staff should be armed.  I would propose that we brainstorm and find alternate ways to make up the difference.

You would use a one-time windfall from what now would be a $2.5 million sale to finance a recurring, $2 million safety program (for which the state pays only half)?

Yes, a short term solution would be a start, other alternatives would also be considered, but speculating on what those alternatives would be is just speculation at this time. I’m sure after scrutinizing the budget and negotiating with the County Commission and the Sheriff we could come up with a viable “long term” solution.

John Fischer’s answer | Janet McDonald’s answer

7.      Explain Flagler County’s one-to-one technology initiative and how it’s paid for. Is the district spending too much on technology? Too little? By what objective measure would you say the initiative has been a success—or has fallen short?

The one-to-one technology initiative was designed to eliminate the digital divide and ensure all students reach technology literacy by the end of 8th grade. (Florida Depart. of Education).  My understanding is that the initiative was paid for from a referendum to raise the local sales tax.  I believe there is an inherent need for us to invest in our student’s future and ensure they are competitive throughout the world after graduation.  Therefore, this is a needed expense and I would support this effort.  As of now, whatever monies are being spent to date, I support with limited knowledge of the details.  Once elected, I will have an opportunity to give a better-informed opinion.  Seeing young students navigating the Skyward to access their grades and other technology tools for studying and reviewing tells me the initiative is working…seriously, every end of year we should be analyzing data to ensure our efforts are being met.  Trust but verify.

John Fischer’s answer | Janet McDonald’s answer

8.      Define the limits of a student’s free expression in and out of school not necessarily as the district’s Code of Conduct sets them out, but as you would craft them, including what a student may or may not say on social media. Evaluate the district’s use of a contractor such as Social Sentinel to monitor certain social media activities on and off campus.

Freedom of expression is an inherent right and we should impress upon our students to be as expressive as possible with the understanding this expression should not infringe on the rights of others. Allowing students to be expressive builds confidence and enhances their ability self-expression and not hold in their feelings.  In school or out, we want our students to share their thoughts in a respectful and meaningful way.  If using social media, this expression should not be directed toward a specific person(s) and be in good taste with manners intact.  They must ensure that their free expression does no disrupt the school or the classroom in any way.  I opposed the decision to use Social Sentinel to monitor activities of the students.  This could have easily been done by the technology department in the district.  Using this company can be misconstrued as “spying” if they are monitoring student’s activities outside of school.  This may not have been the board’s intent, but can be perceived wrong.  I have spoken to some parents/guardians and they believe this to be the case.

It seems to us that the only thing more alarming than using a third party to monitor student behavior online is to give the job to the district itself: putting aside existing software that monitor the use of district computers and laptop, which draws few to no objections, you would be comfortable with district staff “spying” on students’ social media, whether in or out of school?

No, I did not say I was comfortable or supported using the technology department to spy our children, I clearly stated it could have been an option versus paying $18,500 a year to a private company. I’m making the point that if the district was really concerned about keeping our children “safe”, they could use existing software, filters and alerts (as Sentinal says they will do) on the issued computers versus paying an outside company. I am not comfortable or advocating with anyone “spying” on our children. The difference in district filters and alerts and Social Sentinel’s monitoring is that our students home use of computer and social media remains the responsibility of parents/guardians versus outside entity.

Editor’s Note: Social Sentinel does not monitor students’ devices, nor has any jurisdiction over, or responsibility for, student devices or how they are used. Social Sentinel monitors publicly accessible social media postings based on geographic areas, not devices. The school district does, in fact, monitor the uses of student devices through filters and software that can trace a student’s history, for example.

John Fischer’s answer | Janet McDonald’s answer

9.    Amendment 8 stacks three proposals into one, in hopes of winning a 60 percent majority. Let’s break it down as if it were separate parts: Do you support term limits for school board members? Explain your answer. Explain the potential effects on the district of that portion of the proposed constitutional amendment that would shift charter-school oversight to the state, from the local district, and analyze for us how effectively you think the board has overseen existing or potential charter schools in the past five years.

Yes, I support term limits for board members because I believe if a member holds a seat for extended terms, this can breed complacency and stagnation and new perspectives are lost or overlooked.

The potential effects of this shift are more public-school students will fall into the trap of “charter school”, thinking that they will get a better education and a better experience. Charter schools are public schools, in my opinion, they should be under the control of the district with zero stipulations, the same as the traditional public schools. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is what is happening when public school funding is taken and re-distributed to “Charter” schools that the district has no control and limited oversight, only when and if the school fails the district has to answer.  This demoralizes the traditional public system that is the backbone of democracy.  My research is the board has not been very successful over the last five years.  Two charters have closed their doors since I moved here in 2011, only Imagines’ doors are still open.  The district gets no kudos for a charter schools success but all the negative backlash when the charter is revoked and the school closes, so I don’t put much blame on the board’s ineffectiveness because they have limited control.

So how will you vote on Amendment 8?

No.

John Fischer’s answer | Janet McDonald’s answer

10.     Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the district’s Flagship program.

The strengths of the Flagship programs are that they offer students opportunities to see different avenues available to them. Some of these programs are aligned with the local industries for a home-grown workforce if students decide to forego college or finish college and come back to the community to live and work.  A weakness I see is the programs need to be re-evaluated at least annually to ensure there are no cracks in the system.  One crack I see is there are several businesses in the area that have not been tapped.  Vocational trades such as auto mechanic and HVAC, just to name a few are businesses that are constantly seeking employees.  We want these flagship programs to be successful, we must promote them to the students and show them the employment potential for a career path and secure future.

John Fischer’s answer | Janet McDonald’s answer

11.  Have you ever been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor anywhere in Flagler, Florida or the United States (other than a speeding ticket), or faced a civil action other than a divorce, but including bankruptcies? If so, please explain, including cases where charges did not lead to conviction.

No.

John Fischer’s answer | Janet McDonald’s answer

 

2018 Election Candidates, Flagler County

Races
Candidates
County Commission District 2Greg Hansen, Incumbent (Rep)Abby Romaine (Rep)Dennis McDonald (NPA)
County Commission District 4Nate McLaughlin, Incumbent (Rep)Joe Mullins (Rep)Jane Gentile-Youd (NPA)
School Board District 1Andy Dance, IncumbentUnopposed
School Board District 2Janet McDonald, IncumbentJohn FischerCarl Jones
School Board District 4Trevor Tucker, IncumbentPaul Anderson
Palm Coast City Council Seat 2Jack HowellJon Netts
Palm Coast City Council Seat 4Jose Eduardo BranquinhoCorinne Marie HermleJohn Tipton
Florida House District 24Paul Renner, Incumbent (Rep)Adam Morley (Dem)
Congressional District 6, Democratic PrimaryStephen SevignyNancy SoderbergJohn Upchurch
Congressional District 6, GOP PrimaryFred CostelloMichael WaltzJohn Ward
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5 Responses for “Carl Jones, Flagler County School Board Candidate: The Live Interview”

  1. today says:

    He sounds like a decent person with a clear structure of what he hopes to implement. Problem is he is just one person. Ideas are great. Passion is great. Reality is not. That is the problem with most of these positions; school board, city government, or even politics/challenges on a larger scale. One voice really is not enough to make a difference. It’s not. It can get the ball rolling if like-minded individuals also support proposed plans and ideas but the rallying cry from the opposition begins. Then everything becomes this long, drawn out battle between differing opinions and nothing is accomplished. It’s the same song and dance everywhere.

    Humans are a species that thrive on conflict. It will never change. It’s an endless cycle and why this “progressive” nation isn’t so progressive anymore. We are stuck in a rut because our focus is not where it should be. Not sure who I will vote for yet, considering I view voting as more of a privilege then an actual beacon of change, but I will keep Mr. Jones in mind.

  2. Michael Cocchiola says:

    This is a great candidate for Flagler County school board. He’s a leader, the “talks” kid and he’s passionate about learning. We need that passion on the board. Elect Carl Jones on August 28.

  3. Keith says:

    Could not think of a better person to fill this position. I have know this man and his family for years, he has spent so much time with our kids in this community. His morals,structure and ethics is what we need in this county..
    Thank you for all you and your family do for our community!!!!!

  4. BradW says:

    The Schools are in fact using Social Sentinel to monitor and surveil not only students but anyone within the boundaries of at least Flagler County. The service is worthless in my opinion as you’ll see below, but the attempt is there and the expense is a waste.

    I know because I did a public records request for the first 60 days (May and June, and will request July soon) of the alerts and and broke them down. The basics are . . .

    1. There were 20 alerts in 56 days ALL from Twitter. I’ll explain below why this is significant

    2. The posts map outside of School grounds, so they are geofencing the entire County which the School Board was hesitant to answer before.

    3. The posts were mainly driven by combinations of, or containing, the words school, gun, kill, and shoot. And the posts themselves were hardly suspect. Mostly political.

    So here’s the thing about this. It is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that surveiling public posts of Flagler County over 60 days based upon the word combinations that they would only yield results from Twitter on a service that actually can monitor the platforms it says it can. Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube would most likely yield equal to if not more alerts because of their popularity and use locally compared to Twitter. Services like Social Sentinel can not just magically pull public posts from social networks. They have to apply for the feed and be approved based upon their service meeting their guidelines for purpose and use. The results I am seeing highly suggest to me that Social Sentinel is not approved by Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube because their service violates the developer guidelines for using the feed for to conduct surveillance of their users. Likewise, Facebook doesn’t allow feed of general public searches. Services like Social Sentinel can only see a post that would be posted directly onto one of the School’s Facebook pages directly by a user (Social Sentinel points this out right on their home page and is the same restriction other social platforms encounter). The bottom line . . . it’s a very limited service, definitely not worth the cost, and reliance on it is dangerous if the goal is awareness. So being ignorant, not following up, and not demanding accountability is not acceptable. The better strategy is engaging the local community better.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is high time the parents of Flagler County voted an African American to the School Board.

    Carl Jones appears to be highly qualified. I like his military background. He will make a good role model for African American students.

    African American residents need to turn out in droves and vote Carl Jone to the Board so they and their children have a voice at the table.

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