Flagler County Sheriff joins students for ‘One Common Ground' meeting

- Flagler County law enforcement is doing their part to help students who are battling bullies at school.

Sheriff James L. Manfre, Superintendent Jacob Oliva, and community pastors hosted a “One Common Ground” meeting for Matanzas High School students.

The One Common Ground concept began by dealing with racial tensions in many areas of the country. One of the first issues the organization tackled was how local officials were going to address the potential of rebel flags being brought onto campuses on the first day of public school.

Sheriff Manfre brought together the clergy, schools and law enforcement before a local incident could happen. The first meeting was held on August 11, 2015 at the First Baptist Church in Bunnell. The meeting was a complete success.

Leaders at Thursday's meeting took on a new issue that is happening in schools. They emphasized the importance of speaking honestly about what’s going on, even with painful subjects like suicide. The group even pushed the topic of how to increase respect between law enforcement and the community.

Matanzas High School student Troy Buchanan suggested school administrators could dress casually at school to appear more approachable. He said, “Dress down one day a week. Look more like us.”

Jenice Marshall another student at Matanzas High School said administrators should “get to the root” of what’s going on at school. She believes teachers should get to know students, whether they are the bullies or the victims.

Principal of Matanzas Dr. Earl Johnson and assistant principal Dr. John Schelby reminded students that they must do their part as well. They want students to speak up and communicate their needs to school officials. Networking and helping each other is a main goal for the group.

The FCSO has taken a lead in spearheading the “One Common Ground” movement. Last month a meeting was conducted at Flagler Palm Coast High School, which had similar discussions emerging between students and community leaders.

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