Florida schools roundup: Nonexistent school loans, daily recess and more

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florida-roundup-logoNonexistent loans: Two charters schools in Jacksonville have been paying interest to Newpoint Education Partners for loans that do not exist, according to a lawyer for the schools. San Jose Academy and San Jose Preparatory High School list loans totaling $235,000 made by Newpoint in 2014 and 2015. Gary Wheeler, the schools’ attorney, says the boards never approved any loans. In Pinellas County, schools were paying back $1.8 million in loans that did not exist to Newpoint. And in Escambia County, Newpoint was indicted for grand theft, money laundering and aggravated white collar crime. WFLA. The Pinellas County School District is considering absorbing two Newpoint Education Partners charter schools. The schools, Windsor Preparatory Academy and East Windsor Middle Academy, would become a “project-based learning lab environment” if the schools agree to terminate their charters. Both schools were given termination notices in May. Gradebook. WFLA.

Daily recess: The Seminole County School Board is expected to approve a mandatory 20-minute daily recess for all elementary students, starting next fall. The Seminole and Osceola districts are the only ones in Florida to do so, according to Heather Mellet, a Winter Park mother who is part of the Recess for All Florida Students group. Orlando Sentinel. State Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, is asking for a state review from the nonpartisan Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability of school districts’ recess policies. “Recess in our schools has been diminishing and students have been suffering,” she says. “This is detrimental to the development of our children.” A bill to make recess mandatory failed in the Legislature this year. Politico Florida.

One-room school closes: Florida’s last one-room school has closed. Manatee County’s Duette Elementary began in 1930. The district hopes to keep the school open as a destination for field trips. Bradenton Herald.

Chronic absenteeism: Duval County and other northeast Florida school districts show a chronic absenteeism rate of about 2 percent, well below the state average of 4.5 percent. The national average is 13 percent, and Florida had the lowest rate in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection. Florida Times-Union.

Job in jeopardy: The Pittsburgh School Board meets today to discuss the future of newly hired Pittsburgh School Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, formerly an administrator in the Palm Beach County School District. Hamlet’s resume had several errors, and he appears to have plagiarized his educational philosophy. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Grade overturned: Marchman Technical College in New Port Richey wins its appeal to have an F grade overturned by the Florida Department of Education. Pasco County school officials argued that the tiny K-12 student population did not reflect its overall work providing career and technical instruction. The state agreed after a review, and the grade was removed. Gradebook.

Fresen won’t run: State Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, a charter school advocate who is leaving the House due to term limits, now says he is no longer considering running for the Miami-Dade County School Board. Miami Herald.

Disciplinary hearings: An attorney charges that the Orange County School District’s discipline appeals process doesn’t provide fair hearings for students and is a “rubber stamp” of the district’s decisions. David de Armas says he expected a neutral party to provide a fresh review in his client’s hearing, but instead got a quick decision and a reprimand from the hearing officer. Orlando Sentinel.

Unfair labor claim: The state Public Employees Relations Commission will have a hearing into the unfair labor practice charge filed by the teachers union against the Volusia County School District. No date has been set. The union wants the teacher evaluation process to be negotiated as part of the contract. The district disagrees. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

District sued: In a letter to the Florida High School Athletic Association in April, the Palm Beach County School District defended the 11 high school baseball players who moved from Puerto Rico to play at Lake Worth High School in 2015 as legitimate students and players. The 11 are suing the Palm Beach County School Board, alleging they were discriminated against by by being ridiculed and then thrown off the team. Palm Beach Post.

School renovations: A private school is starting renovations to the old Carver Elementary School building. Century Academy LLC is a private, nonprofit school specializing in teaching children with autism and other related learning disabilities. Pensacola News Journal.

Employee arrested: Sabrina Marcilyne Burden, a 44-year-old aide for exceptional students in the Clay County School District, is arrested and charged with soliciting a child for unlawful sexual conduct and traveling to meet a minor to commit an unlawful sex act. Florida Times-Union.

No charges filed: A teacher who dragged a special-needs student by the hair across the floor at Moton Elementary School in Hernando County will not be charged by the state attorney. The teacher was suspended for five days by the district. WTSP.

No break in prison time: A bid by former Broward Teachers Union president Patrick Santeramo to get his state and federal prison terms reduced is rejected by a judge. Santeramo, 68, was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in April after his conviction for mail fraud, money laundering, organized fraud and campaign contribution violations. Sun-Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, says he’d rather see the $23.5 million in Enterprise Florida’s budget go toward secondary schools, colleges and universities. Sounds like a good start. Palm Beach Post. The Brevard County School Board violated my free-speech rights when it cut me off during the comments portion of a meeting. Dean Paterakis, Florida Today.

Student enrichment: Norberto Orellana overcomes homelessness, cerebral palsy and multiple surgeries to graduate from the School for Advanced Studies. He’s headed to Colorado College on scholarship, and wants to become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Miami Herald. Eckerd College’s Fostering Education Initiative provides guidance for foster children in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Its goal is to help boost the 58 percent national graduation rate for foster children. WTSP. Kindergartners at KLA Schools of Brickell show off their ideas on how to develop the land underneath the Miami Metrorail. Miami Herald. Third-graders from Triangle Elementary who quickly responded when a teacher collapsed get a lesson about cardiac arrest and what to do in case an emergency arises from Florida Hospital Waterman. Orlando Sentinel. Retired Rear Adm. Adrian Jackson, Fiserv co-founder Leslie Muma, surgeon and college administrator Dr. Patrick O’Leary, and longtime Polk educator Neriah Roberts are inducted in the Polk County School District’s Hall of Fame. Lakeland Ledger. The Coffee Spot, the idea of two Matanzas High School students, Mathew Crogan and Charlie Wicker, is judged as one of the top 10 student-run enterprises in the world by DECA. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Benito Middle School seventh-grader Harold Espinoza’s good behavior during bus rides earns him $260 in gift cards from Hillsborough County bus driver Justin Schaefer. Tampa Bay Times.