Florida schools roundup: Board member arrest, bathroom access and more

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florida-roundup-logoBoard member arrested: Palm Beach School Board member Mike Murgio is arrested by the FBI. Federal court records allege Murgio is connected to a bribery scheme to gain control of a credit union in New Jersey, and that the credit union then laundered money for online criminals. His arraignment is next week in New York. Murgio’s arrest could lead to his suspension from office by Gov. Rick Scott. Palm Beach PostSun-Sentinel.

Bathroom access: Marion County School Board members agree to consider a resolution that would restrict school bathrooms to students based on birth sex, not gender identity. If passed at Tuesday’s meeting, the ban would take effect Wednesday morning. Ocala Star Banner.

FCA rep banned: A Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative has been banned from all Hillsborough County school campuses because he has a criminal record and did not undergo the district’s background check procedures. The atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation filed the complaint that led to David Gaskill being banned. The district is also requiring special training next week for all public high school sports coaches. Tampa Tribune. Tampa Bay Times.

School impact fees: The Orange County School Board votes to increase school impact fees by almost 35 percent for single-family homes. County commissioners must approve the hike, which would take effect in August. Orlando Sentinel.

STEM push: The White House and a group of public and private leaders are calling for a national initiative to teach science, technology, engineering and math to students as young as 3 or 4 years old. USA Today.

Pearson’s problems: Pearson Education, the largest education company in the world, is again a subject of criticism when its computerized Common Core testing in New Jersey malfunctions and has to be postponed. It’s the latest in a long list of problems Pearson has had over the years – many of them in Florida. Washington Post.

Challenging schools: Twenty-three Florida high schools are among the top 100 most challenging high schools in the United States, according to a report that takes college-level testing and poverty into account. Washington Post.

School bus problems: For the fourth time in the past 10 years, a consultant tells the Hillsborough County School District that it has organizational problems and a chronic shortage of drivers. Tampa Bay Times.

Bus records withheld: The Palm Beach County School District is refusing to release school bus camera maintenance records to a TV station, citing security concerns. WPTV has previously reported that the district has failed to monitor or maintain many of the cameras on buses. Palm Beach Post.

Testing protocols: Pasco County School Superintendent Kurt Browning plans to appoint a committee to form a set of consistent rules about standardized testing that will be used throughout the district. Gradebook.

School, protesters talk: Officials at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind meet with protesters to discuss the school’s American Sign Language policies and audism. Audism is discrimination against people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The protest at the school is in its second week. St. Augustine Record.

Charter school: More than 200 people convene at the South Miami City Hall to support the building of a K-12 charter school near the Palmetto Expressway. The school could house up to 2,500 students. Miami Herald.

Choices denied: Hundreds of Hernando County students who had hoped to move to choice schools or stay at their current schools will instead be attending their neighborhood school, the school board has decided. It cited overcrowding projected at some schools. Tampa Bay Times.

Girls football: The tradition of Jupiter High School’s juniors vs. seniors Powder Puff girls tackle football game is over. Deputy Superintendent David Christiansen says safety was the deciding factor. The girls can choose between continuing the rivalry in a flag football game or by playing kickball. Palm Beach Post.

Teachers honored: Six Palm Beach County teachers are honored at Thursday’s 32nd annual Dwyer Awards for Excellence in Education. More than 300 teachers were nominated, and 30 finalists were selected by panels of community and business leaders. Palm Beach Post.

Principal charged: Venice High School principal Jack Turgeon has been charged with driving under the influence and careless driving after he crashed his vehicle last month. Tests show he had a blood alcohol content 2.5 times the legal limit. Turgeon has been on medical leave since the crash. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Fighting at school: Multiple fights broke out among Leesburg High School students Thursday during lunch. No one is arrested, but police are summoned and are investigating. Daily Commercial.

Opinions on schools: The superintendent’s decision to ban condom distribution to Alachua County students may have inadvertently promoted their use. Gainesville Sun. Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie’s clumsy attempt at damage control over a critical state audit undermines his credibility. Sun-Sentinel. The new law allowing high school athletes to transfer and be immediately eligible is no cause for panic. Alan Dell, Bradenton Herald. Requiring boating safety classes in schools is a worthwhile idea. TCPalm. Jupiter High School has ended tackle football for girls. Now it should consider doing so for boys. Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post. The Take Stock in Children program helps deserving, low-income students graduate from high school, complete college and become productive members of society. Anthony Westbury, TCPalm. If the Confederate flag continues to be a distraction, or worse, in Indian River County schools, the school board should reconsider its decision not to impose a ban. TCPalm.

Student enrichment: Every Tuesday, boys at Pine Grove Elementary School in Brooksville wear dress shirts and ties as part of the school’s new Urban Gentlemen’s Club. Tampa Bay Times. Scheck Hillel Community School ties for first place in the middle-school category of the national Technion Jewish Day School Challenge. Students built a Passover-themed Rube Goldberg machine, a complex contraption created to perform a simple task – revealing a Seder plate. Miami Herald. After months of studying the Holocaust, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High juniors and seniors hold a luncheon for 90 men and women who lived through it. Sun-Sentinel. Quint and Rishy Studer donate about $100,000 to lock up 98 spaces for Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa middle- and high-school students to train at the National Flight Academy. Pensacola News Journal. The Geraldson Community Farm will use the drawing of Mia Hereford, a student at the Manatee School for the Arts, on the exterior of its mobile market. Bradenton Herald. Food from the organic garden at Goldie Feldman Academy is donated to feed the hungry in Sarasota and DeSoto counties. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. A simulated car crash demonstrates the dangers of prom night partying to students at Florida State University School. Tallahassee Democrat.