Charters and Amendment 8: Charter school companies are providing the bulk of the financial support for Amendment 8, the proposed constitutional amendment that would impose a two-term limit on Florida school board members, require civics literacy and give the Legislature more authority to create alternatives to public schools, such as charter schools. The 8isGreat.org political committee has raised $54,532 in support of Amendment 8 through June, according to state election records. Amendments need the approval of 60 percent of voters to be enacted. News Service of Florida.
Charter school funding: Whether charter schools can expect an equal per-student share of school district money raised when voters approve an increase in property taxes hinges on a legal interpretation. State law requires districts to share “current operating discretionary millage levy” with charter schools, but the Palm Beach County School Board recently got a legal opinion that says it does not. The school board will decide next week whether to share increased revenue if voters approve an increase in property taxes. redefinED.
Schools and pot dispensaries: Duval County School Board members are asking local officials to add restrictions to keep medical marijuana dispensaries from opening near three-dozen schools. They say because the facilities deal in cash, they could become robbery targets. “We have had enough code red lockdowns in the past year,” says board member Warren Jones. “There’s no need to increase them because a marijuana facility was robbed.” Jacksonville City Council members say by law, dispensaries must be treated like pharmacies and can open in most commercial areas. Florida Times-Union.
School shooting developments: A flawed, two-step 911 processing system in place during the Feb. 14 shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School may have caused fatal delays in the response of law enforcement, say members of the public safety commission investigating the shootings and officers’ actions. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. Associated Press. Sun-Sentinel. Accuser Stoneman Douglas shooter Nikolas Cruz used a school computer to research bomb-making, according to just-released documents. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. Broward County school officials argue in court for releasing the educational records of Cruz to the public, while his lawyers say doing so will affect his chances of getting a fair trial. Sun-Sentinel. Fifteen Stoneman Douglas shooting survivors file a federal lawsuit against the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, contending their constitutional rights because deoputies did not stop the shooting. Sun-Sentinel. GateHouse. Miami Herald.
School security: St. Lucie and Indian River county school districts have hired administrators for school safety and security, but Martin County has already missed the deadline and officials expect the process to take several more weeks. TCPalm. The Sarasota County School District’s school security plan for the 2018-2019 school year will be a mixture of resource officers from local law enforcement agencies and its own police officers. By the 2019-2020 school year, the district expects its own officers will cover all schools except Venice High and Venice Elementary schools. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Forty guardians of Volusia County schools have begun their 132 hours of training. Most are military veterans or retired law enforcement officers. Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Struggling schools: Duval County school officials are preparing plans to improve 18 of the 20 schools that received grades of D from the state. Two other schools that received F grades have been turned over to an outside company. WJXT.
Charter turmoil: Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells, who is a member of the new Lincoln Academy Charter School board, says he’s concerned about reports that principal Eddie Hundley recommended a teacher to the Sarasota County School District who was under investigation for alleged possession of child pornography and an inappropriate relationship with a student. Wells also denied he’s resigning from the board. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
School water testing: An engineering company collects tap water samples from 13 Brevard County schools to see if they contain chemicals associated with fire extinguishing foams, which could cause cancer. The tests were ordered after concerns were raised about a number of cancer cases being reported by graduates and staff of Satellite High School. Florida Today.
Ex-superintendent wants hearing: Lori Romano is demanding a hearing to contest her dismissal last month as Hernando County school superintendent. She was fired by the school board June 12 for just cause, which according to her contract includes “misfeasance, malfeasance or corruption in office, incompetency, insubordination, immorality, breach of contract, material breach” or violation of any law. If Romano can successfully refute those claims, she would be entitled to retirement and other benefits. If not, she could be required to pay up to $25,000 in damages. Gradebook.
Mental health care issues: A class-action lawsuit filed against the company that provides behavioral health counselors for at-risk students in Duval, Clay and St. Johns schools could affect that care. Employees of Motivational Coaches of America are suing the company because they say they are not being paid. WJXT.
New schools reconsidered: Two schools the Brevard County School District was considering building now may not be needed, say district officials. The schools were planned to ease overcrowding in Viera and West Melbourne, but two new charter schools are expected to ease the pressure to build. Not building will save the district about $40 million. Florida Today.
District recalibrates goals: The Clay County School District improved to an A grade as a district and 8th-best in the state, and Superintendent Addison Davis is now setting loftier goals. “I wanted us to be an ‘A’ school district again and I wanted us to be in the Top 10,” Davis says. “Next up is the Top 5 and then after that, St. Johns County (the No. 1 school district in Florida).” Clay Today.
Increase in teachers: More teachers are being certified in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Education. The number of teachers being issued certificates jumped from 63,822 in the 2014-2015 school year to 78,208 in 2015-2016 and 78,885 in 2016-2017. Miami Today.
Teachers lose certification: Ninety-four Polk County teachers are losing their certification because they couldn’t pass the required Florida Teacher Certification examinations by the deadline. Among them is Irving Strickland, the head football coach at Kathleen High School. Lakeland Ledger.
Cultural sensitivity: A group of Pasco County parents are pushing the school administration to improve cultural sensitivity and diversity. “Unfortunately, there is no continuity throughout the district,” says Sheena Lofton-Huggins of Pasco County Agents for Change. “Some of our schools value [diversity]. Some of our other schools haven’t gotten there.” Tampa Bay Times.
Personnel moves: Sixteen Lee County schools will have new principals when schools reopen next month. Fort Myers News-Press.
Move questioned: Parents of Oscar Patterson Elementary School students are questioning why Superintendent Bill Husfelt is removing principal Darnita Rivers after the school improved from an F grade to a C and avoided closing. Rivers is moving to the assistant principal’s position at Breakfast Point Elementary, and Oscar Patterson will be led by a temporary principal. “I can’t say enough kind things about Mrs. Rivers,” says Husfelt. “We moved, I believe, five different principals, and I moved every one because I think it’s in the best interest of the school.” Panama City News Herald.
Track coach arrested: The track coach at Marianna High School is arrested after he’s accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. Te’Quayis LaVonte Brigham, 23, is charged with sexual battery while in familial and/or custodial authority. Panama City News Herald.
Teacher accused: A Brevard County teacher who resigned after being accused of tongue-kissing a student is appealing the district’s decision to flag his personnel file as “ineligible for rehire.” Ronald LaLeau, 53, allegedly French-kissed the girl on two other occasions as well. Brevard Times.
Student enrichment: The Leesburg High School Interact Club will lead the school’s anti-bullying campaign in the fall. Daily Commercial. A donor picks up the $1,700 tab for creating T-shirts celebrating Oscar Patterson Elementary School’s improvement from an F grade to a C. Panama City News Herald.