Florida schools roundup: Hero plumbers, opting out, bathroom fight and more

florida-roundup-logoPlumbers praised: Two plumbers are credited with saving a student’s life at Royal Palm Beach High School last month. Aaron Glover and Jimmy Johnson were working in a girls bathroom when they heard a commotion in a boys bathroom. They investigated and found one student stabbing another. The attacker saw Glover with a 9-inch pipe wrench, dropped the knife, and was detained by Johnson. Palm Beach Post.

Opting out: Parents of two Duval County students allege the school district is retaliating against them for opting out of the state’s standardized testing. A third-grader may be retained, and an eighth-grader is reportedly being kept out of an early college program. Sandy Stenoff, a founder of the Opt Out Florida Network, says cases like these are happening all over the state. Duval School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says the rules on testing are a “state policy, not district policy. Arguing with the district regarding the alternatives is futile.” Florida Times-Union.

Bathroom fight: The Sarasota County School Board remains deadlocked over the issue of which bathrooms transgender students should use. Supporters from both sides of the issue spoke and protested at Tuesday’s meeting. Until the board acts, the district will continue to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The fight over bathroom rights for transgender students is raging in the state’s K-12 schools, but not at colleges. Politico Florida.

Dress codes: The Alachua County School Board will consider ending its policy requiring school uniforms. The board meets tonight to discuss the recommendation from the district’s discipline committee. Gainesville Sun.

Resume-padding: Just-hired Pittsburgh School Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, formerly an administrator in the Palm Beach County School District, acknowledges errors on his resume but defends his record in a news conference. “It is unfortunate that we have begun this way but I believe today I have answered these questions,” he said. Palm Beach PostPittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Teacher’s trouble: Pasco County teacher Michael Maynard is suspended again for insulting students, this time at Anclote High School. Maynard has a history of making disparaging comments to students. He was suspended in February from River Ridge High School but transferred and given another chance. Superintendent Kurt Browning is recommending that Maynard be fired. Tampa Bay Times.

Tax request: The Indian River County School District is asking voters in August to approve an operating levy of 50 cents per $1,000 assessed property value for four years. If approved, the tax would bring in about $9 million a year – $1 million more than the current levy. TCPalm.

District start times: The Hillsborough County School Board will consider changing starting times at several schools, mostly high schools. The move would allow the district to save money by being more efficient with bus routes. Gradebook.

School budget: For the first time in years, the Hernando County School District is proposing a balanced budget for the 2016-2017 school year. The district is also projecting that reserves will meet the 3 percent recommended by the state Department of Education. Tampa Bay Times.

No Promise Zone: Pensacola has lost out on a bid to turn a 20-square-mile area of Pensacola into a Promise Zone. The city, Escambia County School District and other agencies collaborated on the application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in an effort to bring additional resources to the community, create jobs and reduce crime. Pensacola News Journal.

Lawsuit settlement: Former Manatee school administrator Bob Gagnon will receive $400,000 if the school board approves a settlement to end his lawsuit. Gagnon, a former Manatee High School principal and assistant superintendent, was fired after he was accused of not reporting child abuse. He was acquitted of the charge and sued the district for defamation. Bradenton Herald.

Auditor extension? A committee is recommending the Manatee County School Board rehire Shinn & Co.for another year as the internal auditor for the district. The company was first hired three years ago after an auditor general found 42 areas of concern in the district’s spending and record-keeping. Bradenton Herald.

Charter schools close: Two charter schools in St. Johns County close, and a third is awaiting a decision from the school board. St. Augustine Record.

Phony grad tickets: Dozens of people were denied entry to the River Ridge High School graduation because someone created counterfeit tickets, according to a Pasco County School District spokeswoman. Gradebook.

Principal removed: Teague Middle School Principal Leon McCants will not return to the school next year, according to an Orange County School District spokesman. Teague was arrested last weekend on a DUI charge, and is also under investigation for allegedly misusing a school-issued credit card. Orlando Sentinel.

Ex-teacher to be tried: Bay County prosecutors say they will try former teacher Amanda Presley Austin on a charge of child abuse. Austin, 45, worked as a pre-kindergarten exceptional student education teacher at Waller Elementary School. She is alleged to have forcibly held a student in a closet, and  tapes a student’s shoes to his feet. Panama City News Herald.

Opinions on schools: The school board must support concerned Duval families, who, like residents of many states, oppose the federal mandate that says transgender students should be allowed to use the bathrooms that conform to their gender identity. Philip Wemhoff, Florida Times-Union. The Department of Education’s latest judgment of state law appears to validate opting out by allowing portfolios instead of tests to gain promotion. We doubt that was the intent and expect to hear further clarification. But doesn’t that confirm “tests today are pointless and meaningless”? Bradenton Herald.

Student enrichment: Three Dunbar High School students are named state champions in Microsoft Office programs. Fort Myers News-Press. The Camp Discovery home school earns Blue Zones recognition for promoting healthier choices and habits. Naples Daily News. Six Bay County students are honored for selfless acts. Panama City News Herald.

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