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Sandalwood HS teacher fighting child abuse charge retires
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Sandalwood HS teacher fighting child abuse charge retires

Sandalwood HS teacher fighting child abuse charge retires
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown

Sandalwood HS teacher fighting child abuse charge retires

A Duval high school teacher arrested for child abuse has now retired.

The Duval County School Board was set to vote last week to suspend without pay pending termination Marvin Morris, who teaches math at Sandalwood High School. That vote was withdrawn ahead of the meeting because Morris retired.  WOKV requested the investigation in to Morris, which has now been made available.

The investigation shows that in February, Morris was involved in an argument with a student over grades.  Morris allegedly told a 12th grade female student to “shut up” and leave the classroom or he would “drag her out of here”. The student continued to disobey Morris, and investigators say at that time, he pulled her chair from underneath her, causing her to fall to the ground. He then allegedly grabbed her shoulders and slung her toward a bookshelf, although it’s unclear if she hit the shelving.

A teacher in an adjacent classroom confirmed hearing “a conversation with raised voices” and students saying things to Morris like “you can’t do that”.  She called security and pulled several students in to her room. Those students told her they were talking about how Morris was testing them on things he wasn’t teaching and that he wasn’t present in class often enough, and he then told them to shut up and escalated the situation.

There were 27 students in the room in addition to the complainant, and all but one provided a written statement to investigators. Most of the statements corroborated what the District concluded. One of the students also took a video of the altercation, which the investigation says shows this accounting of events.

The Department of Children and Families was also called in. They closed the case as “Verified for Physical Injury”, finding that the student sustained emotional injuries as well as neck injuries.

Morris was booked in to the Duval County Jail by the Duval County School Police in February for felony child abuse. Our search of jail records shows he was released the next day on his own recognizance. A search of court records shows that on April 1, the child abuse charge against Morris was actually dropped, although a reason has not been given. Between the start of the investigation and the initially scheduled vote last week, Morris tendered his retirement.

WOKV has asked the District whether Morris would still be allowed to receive benefits, pension or other payouts accrued during his time with the DCPS because he retired instead of being fired. DCPS is confirming that information.

Morris was instructed by a Duval Teacher’s Union Representative not to make a statement to investigators.  He has received discipline in the past few years for failing to “follow directive and comply with contractual obligations”, bringing a DTU rep to a parent conference even though he was instructed not to, and being verbally aggressive with a parent in the school parking lot. The most recent complaint preceding this, that he engaged in inappropriate physical conduct with a student, was closed as “unable to prove or disprove”.

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