15 Florida students arrested for protesting their school head who took away after-school activities


Cops arrested 15 students from a Florida school as they protested their new principal’s stern rules. 

Daraford Jones is the new head of Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Florida, and since starting, he has made it clear that tardiness won’t be tolerated.

He has instructed students to be locked out of classrooms if they are ‘a minute’ late.  

The students, alongside their social studies teacher Tomaris Hill, protested the new changes outside the school on early Monday after claiming they felt like ‘inmates’.

Armed with signs reading ‘Jones gotta go’ and ‘We are students not inmates,’ students of Kathleen High piled onto the school grounds around 6am on Monday to protest the new rules and ask the principal to resign.   

Students standing outside Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Florida, during a protest on Monday morning where they demanded their new principal Daraford Jones to resign 

The peaceful protest turned ugly after Polk County Sheriff's Office arrived and arrested 15 students.

Twelve students were charged with disruption of a school function and resisting an officer without violence

The peaceful protest turned ugly after Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrived and arrested 15 students. Twelve students were charged with disruption of a school function and resisting an officer without violence. One was charged with disruption of a school function, resisting an officer without violence, providing a false name to LEO, and possession of a weapon on campus. And two were charged with affray

The peaceful protest turned ugly after some students were arrested for ‘causing a disruption that interfered with the school’s ability to operate.’ 

‘We feel like he treats us like inmates,’ senior Payton Long told Spectrum News 9 Bay Area about her reason to protest.

Hill, who organized the protest, sent students text messages to tell them about the protest. 

The protest was organized by teacher Tomaris Hill (above) after Jones locked students outside between class periods

Jones (above) also told students they couldn't dance at homecoming and teachers were not allowed to leave school grounds for lunch

The protest was organized by teacher Tomaris Hill (left) after Jones (right) allegedly locked students outside between class periods, preventing those who are late to enter class, saying students couldn’t dance at homecoming and had to wear jeans, and teachers were not allowed to leave school grounds for lunch and would need to pack their lunch or eat what is provided in the cafeteria 

He wrote: ‘Right at the Kathleen sign. We’ll have signs, speakers and microphones. The goal is to block off traffic from getting into the school to make the street backup. The news will be there as well. Spread the word. #StandUpSpeakOut.’ 

Twelve students were charged with disruption of a school function and resisting an officer without violence. One was charged with disruption of a school function, resisting an officer without violence, providing a false name to LEO, and possession of a weapon on campus. And two were charged with affray, according to Polk County Sheriff’s Office.  

Students were armed with sigs reading 'Jones gotta go,' 'we stand because we care,' and 'we are students not inmates'

Students held signs at the protest

Students were armed with signs reading ‘Jones gotta go,’ ‘we stand because we care,’ and ‘we are students not inmates.’ 

Hill texted students to let them know the protest would start at 6.30am and that the plan was to block traffic

Hill texted students to let them know the protest would start at 6.30am and that the plan was to block traffic 

Hill, one of the few outspoken teachers at Kathleen High, posted a video on Facebook showing the school's locked doors and the mass of students who were locked out, due to Jones's new rules

Hill, one of the few outspoken teachers at Kathleen High, posted a video on Facebook showing the school’s locked doors and the mass of students who were locked out, due to Jones’s new rules 

Students were getting fed up with their new principal after being forced to miss class if they were ‘a minute late’.  

‘Locking the building and changing the bell schedules. We’ll be not even a minute late and they put us away when we could be learning,’ Long told Spectrum News. 

Jones started at Kathleen High School (pictured) in January and said allegedly students had to 'earn the change'

Jones started at Kathleen High School (pictured) in January and said allegedly students had to ‘earn the change’

‘You can’t be a second late,’ an unnamed student told Fox 13 Tampa Bay

One of the principal’s new rules was a strike down on tardiness, according to the students. The school doors are allegedly locked between classes, leaving students running even a minute behind, stranded for 50 minutes until second period began. 

In an effort to curb tardiness, the principal reportedly created the ‘Choice Room,’ as a Change.org petition run by students call it, is a room where tardy students would go to wait for the next class period to begin, forced to miss out on learning as a punishment for tardiness. 

‘Pretty much just detention during class time,’ Katie Ramage, a student, wrote on the petition. 

Polk County School District said the 'demonstration was largely peaceful' but students were arrested because they 'interfered with the school's ability to operate'

Polk County School District said the ‘demonstration was largely peaceful’ but students were arrested because they ‘interfered with the school’s ability to operate’ 

Students would not be allowed back to class until the next period began.  

Hill, who organized the protest and is one of the very few outspoken teachers, told Spectrum News: ‘If I’m a minute late, I would rather that kid have 49 minutes of instruction then say you’re late and that kid wastes the other 49 minutes.’ 

Principal Jones’s new rules

Students and teachers are calling for the new principal to resign after he implemented new rules. 

Here’s what the students and faculty have claimed to new sources Jones has enacted since becoming principal:

  • Sending students to the ‘Choice Room’ if they are late
  • Locking students outside between periods, so those who are late cannot enter the building
  • Have to wear jeans and cannot dance at homecoming 
  • Teachers have to bring their lunch from home or eat the meal provided in the cafeteria, not allowed to leave the grounds for lunch 

Source: Spectrum News, ABC Tampa Bay, Fox 13 Tampa Bay

Another disgruntlement for students was the homecoming dance. Students reportedly submitted a request for the annual dance and Jones denied it, even after two years of quarantine. 

He allegedly told students they would have to wear jeans and would not be allowed to dance if homecoming happened, according to ABC Tampa Bay.

‘For homecoming, girls aren’t allowed to wear dresses; they’re not allowed to dance with anybody and the dance is on the football field,’ senior Alex Diez told Spectrum News. ‘No other school is doing that. You should be able to dance, that’s what homecoming is for.’ 

It wasn’t just the students who had to deal with new rules. Teachers were reportedly told to bring their lunch or eat the meal provided in the cafeteria. Despite the requests by teachers to be able to leave the grounds to grab lunch, Jones allegedly said no.  

Jones started at the school in January and felt the students needed to ‘earn the change.’  

‘He met with the students and told them he didn’t feel like they deserved the change; he wants them to earn the change. I’m all for structure and discipline because I feel like that’s needed at a high school, but you have to balance that with social activity,’ Hill told Spectrum News. 

The school district reported that classes have resume back to the normal schedule and that ‘demonstration was largely peaceful.’ 

Daily Mail contacted Jones, but did not hear back before publication.  



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