Florida schools roundup: School officials reassigned, new Senate leaders and more

Jim Booth

Stoneman officials reassigned: Four administrators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been reassigned in connection with the school shooting Feb. 14 in which 17 people died and 17 others were wounded. Security specialist Kelvin Greenleaf and assistant principals Jeff Morford, Winfred Porter and Denise Reed are being reassigned to other, undisclosed Broward County School District administrative locations, according to district officials. Sun-SentinelMiami Herald. WLRN. A long-awaited FBI report to the panel investigating the shooting doesn’t mention what the agency did after receiving tips about suspect Nikolas Cruz before the massacre. Instead, it focuses on improvements to its public hotline. Sun-SentinelPolitico Florida. WLRN.

Senate education leaders: Two longtime legislators with educational backgrounds and interests are appointed as leaders of the Florida Senate Education Policy Committee. Newly elected Sen. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, will chair the committee, and Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, will be the vice chair. Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, is named chair of the Senate subcommittee on education appropriations, with Diaz as the vice chair. GradebookNews Service of Florida. WFSU.

Bay County schools update: Bay County school officials say about 30 percent of their students have relocated since Hurricane Michael hit the area Oct. 10, and the number of homeless students has doubled. Panama City News Herald. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visits Bay County schools that were damaged by the hurricane. DeVos stopped at Cedar Grove Elementary School, which absorbed students from Springfield Elementary and is now nicknamed Cedarfield, and met with school and political leaders at Rutherford High School. WJHG. Panama City News Herald. Bay County school officials are considering having Rutherford High School house its students and Everitt Middle School students at the same time for the rest of the school year. Right now the schools have a split time arrangement, with Everitt in session until 6 p.m. Panama City News Herald.

Homeless students: The number of homeless students in Miami-Dade County has increased by 50 percent in the past two years, according to school district officials. At least 9,000 students are now considered homeless or “unstably housed,” and the number could be as high as 15,000, they say. WLRN.

DeSantis visits Jewish school: Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis visits a Jewish day school in Fort Lauderdale to promote school security and school choice, specifically the tax credit scholarship program that’s used by 80 students at the Brauser Maimonides Academy. “For his first trip to be focused on visiting a Jewish day school, talking about security and expanding school choice says an enormous amount about what his priorities will be when he gets sworn in,” said Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the scholarships. redefinED. WSVN. WLRN.

Educators honored: Two Florida educators are among 11 U.S. school leaders recently named as winners of the 2018 Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership. Honored were Demetrios Demopoulos, director of the Archimedean Upper Conservatory in Miami, and Nongongoma Majova-Seane, principal at the Stanton College Preparatory School in Jacksonville. Both their schools were selected as National Blue Ribbon Schools. U.S. Education DepartmentGreek Reporter.

Board gets new looks: The conservative Florida School Board Members Coalition, which sprang to life after splitting from the Florida School Boards Association a couple of years ago, has new leadership and will soon have a new website. Tina Descovich, chair of the  Brevard County School Board, is the new president. Gradebook.

Specialized programs: Teachers at three Florida Catholic schools have completed training in a program designed to help students with specific learning needs or diagnosed disabilities. The Program for Inclusive Education is available through the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education. redefinED. Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida is starting a program in January with students teaching their peers about sexual health and healthy relationships. WUSF.

School busing changes: Courtesy school busing for Leon County students who live within 2 miles of their schools is being eliminated for the 2019-2020 school year, according to school district officials. The district is also requiring bus stops to be at least four-tenths of a mile apart, and new software is being added that will allow parents to track a student’s bus. Tallahassee Democrat.

New school bus compound: The Palm Beach County Commission approves plans for a new school bus compound near the Florida Turnpike in the western part of the county. Up to 300 school buses, fuel pumps, a maintenance garage and an administrative building will be placed on the 25-acre property. Palm Beach Post.

Bus radios to be upgraded: The Lake County School Board approves spending $1.2 million to upgrade school bus radios that will allow drivers to communicate directly with schools. Daily Commercial.

Principal arrested: A Duval County principal is arrested and charged with insurance fraud less than $20,000. State officials say Darrell Phillip Perry, 51, principal at Timucuan Elementary School, falsified $16,000 in repair bills after Hurricane Irma went through the area last year. He’s been reassigned by the district pending an investigation. Florida Times-Union. WJAX.

Bus monitor struck: A Seminole County school bus monitor is in serious condition after being hit by a school bus in Winter Springs. The monitor was walking through the refueling area when she was hit. Police are investigating. WOFL.

Opinions on schools: Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri once objected to arming teachers. After seeing the evidence while presiding over the state commission investigating the Parkland shooting, he’s had a change of heart, and it could lead to teachers and other staffers who are willing to carry guns being permitted to do so. Lakeland Ledger. Lives probably could have been saved at Parkland had school personnel been carrying weapons. But does one mass shooting mean all Florida schools should allow qualified teachers to carry guns? John Romano, Tampa Bay Times. “Penny wise, pound foolish” certainly sums up our state’s stingy approach to paying teachers. Florida Times-Union. The Indian River County’s actions after the heatstroke death of a Sebastian River High School football player in 2014 have been shameful and hurtful to the mourning parents. Laurence Reisman, TCPalm.

Student enrichment: Scott White was once a struggling student in Lourdes Lopez’s 5th-grade classroom at Miami Heights Elementary. Now he’s her soon-to-be-adopted son. Miami Herald.

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