Florida schools roundup: Bathroom access, high school football and more

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florida-roundup-logoBathroom access: The Florida ACLU files a sex discrimination complaint against the Marion County School District after it suspended a transgender student for his bathroom choice. The student, born female but identifying as a male, used the boys bathroom after the district passed a rule restricting students to using the bathrooms of their birth sex only. Ocala Star Banner. Politico Florida. Florida Politics. The Obama administration is telling all U.S. school districts to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity or face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid. New York Times.

Playoff changes: The Florida High School Athletic Association wants to change the high school football playoffs for the 2017 season. Instead of playing in district, schools could play anyone they wanted to, with points awarded for strength of schedule. The top point-gatherers in each region would earn playoff spots. The FHSAA hopes to have a decision by the fall. Miami Herald.

Girls football game: Plans for the Powder Puff tackle football game between Jupiter High School seniors and junior girls are proceeding, now that the town of Jupiter has agreed to rent the high school stadium for the event. The tentative game date is May 27. The game had been canceled by school officials, who cited safety concerns. But the players and others at the high school persisted, and the town stepped in to assume some responsibility in the school’s place. Palm Beach Post.

Early education: One-third of all children in Escambia County are unprepared for kindergarten, and most of them live in poverty, speakers tell attendees at the fourth annual Early Education Summit in Pensacola. Pensacola News Journal.

Specialty schools: A school for autistic children in grades K-6 is now open in Palm Bay. The Puzzle Box Academy was started by Pam Holz, who was dissatisfied with educational options for her son, who has nonverbal autism. Florida Today. The Pasco County School District plans to open a school only for students with severe emotional and behavior disabilities. It’s expected to open in the fall on the campus of Richey Elementary School campus in New Port Richey. Gradebook.

Dual enrollment: Forty-one high school seniors in Orange and Seminole counties will earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at graduation this spring. More than 50,000 Florida students take part in the dual enrollment program, but only a few earn both degrees by the time of their high school graduation. Orlando Sentinel.

Contract negotiations: Members of the Service Employees International Union in Lake County are unhappy that they have not gotten a raise in almost a year as the union remains at an impasse with the district. The holdup is a dispute over seniority for transportation workers. Daily Commercial. A special magistrate has recommended that the Seminole County School District give teachers more than it offered, but less than what the union wanted. Both sides now have 20 days to review the suggestion. Orlando Sentinel.

Police official resigns: A special assistant to the police chief of the Broward County School District is resigning. Jillian Haring, a former teacher, has been accused by some school board members of interrogating employees being investigated by school police. The chief and assistant chief both resigned May 4, but changed their minds the same day. The department has come under scrutiny lately for overspending its budget by $3.5 million. Sun-Sentinel.

Transfer overturned: A teacher’s unwanted transfer has been reversed by the Hillsborough County School Board. Laurie Rodriguez was transferred from Erwin Technical College in what the district called a money-saving move. Rodriguez’s union representative argued that the contract assumes members will not be displaced unless there is a clear need, such as the shutdown of a program. Gradebook.

Teachers not renewed: Sixty-three St. Johns County School District teachers will not have their contracts renewed. Another 21 are currently ineligible because they did not renew or meet certification requirements. St. Augustine Record.

Property sale: Eatonville is sorting through seven bids to develop 113 acres on both sides of I-4. The land is owned by the Orange County School District, and includes the site of the now-closed Robert Hungerford Preparatory High School. The town plans to choose a developer by July 1. Orlando Sentinel.

Road study: A student’s death has prompted Polk County officials to study ways to improve traffic conditions on Clubhouse Road in Lakeland. Kalen Kirk, 17, was struck and killed on the road May 2 when he tried to cross to get to his school bus stop. Lakeland Ledger.

Opinions on schools: It’s the Hillsborough County School District’s obligation to ensure that the separation of church and state is maintained and that children in public schools are not forced to spend their formative years in a climate of undue influence. Tampa Bay Times.

Student enrichment: Fort Walton Beach High School students are campaigning to ban the release of balloons at graduation in favor of a more environmentally friendly option of bubble machines that synthesize helium with soap. Northwest Florida Daily News. More than 300 schoolchildren attend state Sen. Oscar Braynon’s annual Choice Challenge. The free youth-only event aims to help middle- and high-school students make good decisions about their future. Miami Herald. Volusia County middle school students show off their STEM skills in the third annual Rube Goldberg Competition, a contest named for the late cartoonist known for drawing overengineered contraptions to perform simple tasks. Daytona Beach News-Journal.