Florida schools roundup: Net neutrality and schools, term limits and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Net neutrality and schools: Critics of the federal government’s rule to end net neutrality say teachers and students could be adversely affected. The new rules would allow Internet providers to charge more, and to give priority and bandwidth to people paying a premium and to streaming video services that are owned by those companies. That could put educational users in a cue waiting for service. Some critics also worry that some companies could suppress or de-emphasize certain viewpoints. Telecommunications company officials say those worries are overstated. The 74.

School board term limits: There’s already a proposed constitutional amendment creating school board term limits that is working its way through the Constitution Revision Commission. Now, a Florida lawmaker has filed a bill that would also set term limits of two four-year terms for members and would have to be approved by voters. The bill was filed by Rep. Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville, and it’s identical to a bill filed in the Senate by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota. The legislative session starts Jan. 9. News Service of Florida.

Schools of Hope rules: The proposed rules for potential Schools of Hope operators are now posted on the Florida Department of Education website. The biggest change allows the state to bypass the proposed benchmarks and instead use the attainment of one of three “measurable criteria” standards to name a company a “hope operator.” Gradebook.

Town meeting on suicide: About 200 Lake County students and parents meet to talk about how to help distraught students who might try to kill themselves. Three students have committed suicide in the past two months. As a start, a teen support group will begin Jan. 15 and meet weekly for at least six weeks. Orlando Sentinel. Daily Commercial.

School choice: Leon County parents will now have to fill out an online application to be considered for school choice, school officials say, and lotteries will be held to assign slots. Another change is the absence of any charter school options on the application. The application will appear on the district’s website Jan. 5, and applications will be accepted through March 1. Tallahassee Democrat.

Public employees, private schools: More than 1,400 Florida public school employees  now use the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship to send their children to private schools. The employees represent 57 of Florida’s 67 public schools districts. Another 60 work for charter schools, and a half-dozen work for the public Florida Virtual School. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the tax credit scholarship program. redefinED.

Parks for schools: Concerned over crowded schools, Boca Raton city leaders say they are considering donating, trading or selling parkland to the Palm Beach County School District so it can build new or bigger schools. There are nine schools in the city, and only two are under capacity. Palm Beach Post.

Outside investigator: The Sarasota County School hires an Orlando attorney to investigate a school employee’s claim that she was discriminated against after lodging a sexual harassment complaint against Superintendent Todd Bowden. The board agreed to pay Suzanne D’Agresta, of the Orlando firm Garganese, Weiss and D’Agresta, P.A., $180 an hour. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Rezoning lawsuit: A judge tells the Pasco County School District and the parents who are suing it over revised attendance zones that her decision will be issued in the first two weeks of the new year. The parents say the committee considering the rezoning violated state laws on open meetings. Gradebook.

Notable deaths: Former two-term Polk County School Board member Dick Mullenax has died at the age of 70. He is credited with helping to build the school district’s fund-raising group. Lakeland Ledger.

Illness hits school: About a fifth of the 1,270 Old Kings Elementary School students missed school Friday after developing flu-like symptoms. “It is significant, there was an outbreak, no doubt about it,” says Flagler County Health Department administrator Robert Snyder. Flagler Live.

Teacher smoothies tainted: Three students have been removed from Stone Middle School in Melbourne after allegedly lacing their teachers’ smoothies with an ammonia-based window cleaner and hand sanitizer. No charges have been filed, and police are investigating. Florida Today.

Teacher arrested: Christine Ketelsen, a special needs teacher at Oakstead Elementary School, is arrested on a charge of child abuse for allegedly striking and kicking a 15-year-old in her care, according to the Pasco County deputies who say the incident is unrelated to her job. The school board meets today and may vote on a recommendation to suspend her. Patch.com. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: Miami-Dade and Monroe counties should be rewarded for good performance and fiscal accountability of their Early Learning Coalitions, not penalized by losing money to other programs. Adrian Alfonso and David Lawrence, Miami Herald.

Student enrichment: Manatee County’s Ballard Elementary and Kinnan Elementary schools are two of eight Florida schools to earn HealthierUS School Challenge designations. WWSB. Students at the Visionary School of Arts in Stuart paint a mural on a downtown building in an effort to raise money to stop human trafficking. TCPalm.

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