School safety task force: The Broward County School District’s controversial alternative discipline program, Promise, is the focus of the second meeting of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission. School officials defend the program, saying it has reduced the schools-to-prison pipeline that has been a problem in Broward. Members of the panel are skeptical that the program changes behavior, and want more answers at the next meeting July 10 and 11. “We need to dig deep into this … program,” says commission member Grady Judd, who is the sheriff in Polk County. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. TCPalm. Politico Florida. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who chairs the state safety commission, says he believes lawmakers did set aside enough money to pay for an armed safety officer at all schools. Politico Florida. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow died in the Parkland shootings, resigns from the commission, saying he wants to concentrate on his own investigation of the tragedy and on electing new members to the Broward County School Board. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. Politico Florida.
School security: Members of the Marion County School Board say the $5.3 million cost to put certified law enforcement officers in every school may force them to consider arming employees at some elementary schools. Ocala Star-Banner. Volusia County school officials want to add six more school resource officers and hire 44 school guardians for school security, but are having trouble reaching an agreement with local law enforcement agencies on how to pay for them. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Many city officials in Brevard County disagree with the school district’s plan to put school resource officers where it can and fill the gaps with security specialists, and are finding money for SROs. Florida Today. The Jackson County School Board approves the creation of a police department for the school district. WMBB. A report commissioned by the Palm Beach County School District suggests the district should proceed with its plan to create its own police force. Earlier this week, a consultant hired by the sheriff recommended that the school police force merge with the sheriff’s office. Palm Beach Post.
School shooting developments: The Broward County sheriff is replacing the commander whose decisions on the day of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been criticized. Parkland city officials made the request to remove Capt. Jan Jordan, which is their right under their contract with the sheriff. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. Attorneys for accused school shooter Nikolas Cruz are asking a judge to block the public release of a confession and other statements he reportedly made to the police after his arrest. They argue that “publication of certain portions of the statement will cause significant trauma to an already beleaguered community, impede the defendant’s constitutional right against self-incrimination, as well as his right to a fair and impartial trial.” Sun-Sentinel. Associated Press. Survivors from the History of the Holocaust class in Room 1214 at Stoneman Douglas High are trying to heal through modern text messaging, old-school socializing and time. Two of their classmates died and four others were wounded in the shooting. New York Times. Motivational Coaches of America, a company that offered students free counseling after the Parkland shootings, is struggling to fulfill its promises. Turnover is high as coaches say they aren’t being paid, which is creating gaps in services for the already struggling students. Palm Beach Post.
Stressful school year: Hurricanes, power outages, an influx of refugees, the school shooting in Parkland and a skyrocketing number of school threats have made for a most stressful school year in south Florida, say educators. It has “certainly been one to remember,” says Frank Zenere, a Miami-Dade school psychologist and district coordinator for a crisis response team. “One does not have to be in the midst of a tragic occurrence to be traumatized by it. We’ve had a number of very personal exposures this year, which I think makes it a different type of year than typical.” Miami Herald.
School board elections: Sarasota County School Board candidates talk about school security and tensions on the board during a Sarasota Tiger Bay Club candidate forum. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Personnel moves: Mollie Vega, who has been the principal of Merritt Island High for the past four years, is named director of Secondary Leading and Learning for the Brevard County School District. In her new role, she’ll supervise principals of several middle and high schools. Space Coast Daily. Brevard Times.
Notable deaths: Brooker Mikey Kelly, a longtime teacher, coach, administrator and Ocala Forest High School’s first principal, has died at the age of 87. Ocala Star-Banner.
School’s plane may be removed: The cost of repairing a U.S. Navy training plane that’s been on the Milton High School campus since 1976 is estimated at $80,000, and the city council is considering removing it. Pensacola News Journal.
Opinions on schools: If we do not have honest and meaningful dialogues regarding the human failures, structural protections of our schools, lack of resources for school security and school resource officers, and the underfunding of mental health programs dedicated to prevention and intervention in our schools and community, we will find no satisfying solutions about how to stop school shootings. Mike Ryan and Beam Furr, Sun-Sentinel. Conspicuously missing from a newspaper’s disturbing assault on religious-based education was any attempt to address the most essential question: Are students learning? Suzette Dean, Orlando Sentinel. There has to be a better way to secure schools than having a good guy with a gun. How about single-access entry, metal detectors and wands, for starters? Yes, such measures would cause long lines and frustration. If it stops a madman, so be it. Joe Henderson, Tampa Bay Times. The law giving scholarships to bullied students mocks good sense. It punishes the wrong person and ignores the right one. St. Augustine Record.
Student enrichment: Tyler Carach, a 10-year-old 5th-grader from Escambia County, has delivered more than 65,000 doughnuts to police officers in 31 states in less than two years as a thank-you for their work. Today.