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Secretary's Message

November 21, 2012

Wansley WaltersDear DJJ team members:


Happy Thanksgiving! Please allow me to share some recent news and announcements.


TAKING THE ROADMAP TO GAINESVILLE: I was gratified at the positive response to last Thursday’s Roadmap to System Excellence Town Hall meeting in Tallahassee. The next Town Hall meeting is at Santa Fe College in Gainesville on Tuesday, Nov. 27 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. This is the second in a series of eight Town Hall meetings across the state this month and next to invite public comment on the Roadmap and juvenile justice reform. All Town Hall meetings are open to the public and I encourage you to attend if possible. A detailed schedule of Town Hall meeting dates and locations is available on the Roadmap to System Excellence webpage.   


LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: This week our chief of staff, legislative director and I met with legislators to discuss DJJ’s priorities and the Roadmap to System Excellence. Members of the Legislature were in Tallahassee this week for Organizational Session which convenes 14 days following each general election. The Organizational Session is where the newly elected members of the Legislature are officially sworn in and legislative officers are selected. Legislative committees will start meeting the first week of December and then meet again the third and fourth weeks of January. You can learn more about the legislative process here and you can learn about DJJ legislative initiatives here.


DJJ NOW ON FACEBOOK: We are stepping up our use of social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) to promote our reform efforts. We encourage you and your friends and neighbors to visit and like us on our recently launched Facebook page that is updated with current DJJ events and photos. You can also follow DJJ on Twitter @fladjj and watch me discuss reform on YouTube (a DJJ video library is also available on our website by clicking here). If you are not already signed up on Twitter and Facebook, registration is easy and free. Just follow the instructions after clicking on Twitter and Facebook. (DJJ employees currently can access social media sites only from their home computers and personal smart phones, not from their workplace computers. However, videos in the DJJ video library are not restricted and can be viewed on office computers.)


PROBATION KUDOS: Unfortunately, a number of children referred to DJJ have serious mental and/or behavioral health problems. Juvenile probation officers contact the school system to obtain information, including psychological evaluations and academic and attendance records, to complete court reports and supervision plans. We recently received the following heartwarming testimonial from one of the school-based liaisons with our staff who helps educate these troubled youth.  


I am writing to let you know how much I appreciate the outstanding work of Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Brad Atherton. I have been working for Duval County School Board since 1992 in the most restrictive Exceptional Student Education program in Duval County. I am presently the program specialist for the Behavioral Education and Social Skills Teaching (BEST) program, formerly known as day treatment for Severely Emotionally Disturbed students. In my years with Duval County I have worked with good and unfortunately bad JPOs. Brad Atherton is by far the best JPO I have seen. Brad is an optimistic person who is always willing to see a real and worthwhile attribute in a person or situation. He believes staunchly in the potential of human beings to change. To help children make positive decisions, he radiates a confidence and conviction that they have the potential to do so. He is a person with high integrity, he displays consistency of his actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. The best JPO I ever had the pleasure to work with is Brad Atherton. So often we do not get to hear positive statements. Professional behaviors are simple. What's not simple is the consistent application of them. Being a true professional takes thought and effort, and that describes Brad Atherton.

Sally Altman Frisbie
Program Specialist
Exceptional Education/Student Services
Duval County Public Schools


I am thankful to each and every one of you for your hard work on behalf of our kids. Whether you are spending Thanksgiving at home or out of town, please spend it safely.




Wansley Walters



PS: Please send any noteworthy or newsworthy items for consideration in my weekly letter to Communications Director C. J. Drake at cj.drake@djj.state.fl.us or call 850.921.5905. Submissions are considered on a space-available basis and may be edited for clarity and length. Thank you for your cooperation.