Education bills left hanging, Schools of Hope, trafficking bill and more

Education bills hanging: Several high-profile education bills are left in limbo after the Florida House PreK-12 Appropriations Committee adjourned Monday without acting on them. “We are currently not scheduled to meet in week six,” said committee chair Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater. “This will probably be our last committee meeting.” Among the bills that could die in the committee: one requiring high school students to take a financial literacy course to graduate and one requiring schools to offer an elective course studying the Bible. Gradebook.

Schools of Hope: The House PreK-12 Appropriations Committee did approve five bills, including one that expands the number of neighborhoods in which Schools of Hope charter schools can open. Gradebook. WFSU. Texas-based charter school company IDEA says it plans to open four Schools of Hope for 3,000 students in several low-income Tampa neighborhoods in 2021. They would provide alternatives to Oak Park and Robles elementary schools and Greco and Sligh middle schools. Gradebook.

Human trafficking: The bill that would add human trafficking information to health courses in public schools is approved by the House PreK-12 Appropriations Committee. It now moves on to the House Education Committee. If it’s approved there it will go to the full House for a vote. News Service of Florida. Florida Politics. Capitol News ServiceFlorida Phoenix. WCTV.

Bathroom attendants: The Lee County School District is proposing to hire 11 roving security attendants to monitor bathrooms in high schools. The district thinks the move will cut down on vaping and on the number of threatening notes to schools. Attendants would work seven hours a day and each would cost the district $25,025, according to the proposal. Fort Myers News-Press.

School security: Lakeland city commissioners agree to hire four school resource officers to comply with state law by providing security in all schools. The hirings will prevent the department from having to reassign officers from their regular duties. Lakeland Ledger. The Sarasota County School District’s police department plans to hire 15 more school resource officers, three more sergeants, two additional lieutenants and five regional response officers for the next school year. The expansion allows the department to place at least one officer in all schools. WUSF. Missing from the discussion of the need for greater mental services in schools between Gov. Ron DeSantis and state officials last week was any mention of the shortage of school counselors. State data shows that those counselors are carrying double the caseload recommended by experts. Florida Phoenix.

School shooting suit: An attorney for the Broward County School District is asking a judge to cancel depositions for seven employees of the district, including three assistant principals who worked at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a student who died in the 2018 shooting. The attorney also wants the judge to limit the questioning of employees, bar the media from the depositions and and prohibit those who are questioned from sharing information with the media. Sun Sentinel.

Teacher shortage: Florida’s teachers say there’s a lot more than a difficult certification test contributing to the shortage of classroom leaders. Low pay, work conditions, flawed tests for students are among them, they say. Gradebook.

Student testing: Florida Standards Assessments testing begins this week in elementary and high schools, and will continue into May. WPTV. Districts around the state hold events to motivate students for testing. Tallahassee Democrat. WCTV. WJHG. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Palm Beach County school officials aren’t commenting on at least two spelling and grammatical errors on the tests. Boca News Now.

Charter schools deal: The Hillsborough County Commission will take a second look today at a deal it approved in February that allows a charter schools company to issue $35 million in low-interest bonds so it can buy school properties it currently leases. Commissioners say they may been misled about the deal by several school board members. Gradebook.

Superintendents’ jobs: The attorney for suspended Okaloosa County Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson argues in a petition to the Florida Supreme Court that Gov. Ron DeSantis overstepped his authority when he suspended her in January for dereliction of duty, and that Jackson should be reinstated. Northwest Florida Daily News. The Indian River County School Board is expected to vote today whether to fire Superintendent Mark Rendell. Rendell told the board he looking for another job, and some board members want to start a search now so they can have a replacement working by the time school starts in August. TCPalm. The Escambia County School Board agrees to pay $25,000 to the Florida School Boards Association for its help in hiring its first appointed superintendent. Current Superintendent Malcolm Thomas is retiring in 2020. WEAR.

Grade-changing: The reassignment of two Palm Beach County high school administrators for changing the grades of some students without alerting the teachers or informing their bosses prompts a question for some educators: Should principals ever be able to change the grades of students? The teachers union opposes such authority, and district officials are declining comment. Palm Beach Post.

New school: Dune Lakes Elementary School is on schedule to open as expected in August in Santa Rosa Beach, Walton County. About 1,000 students are expected for K-5 students. Fifth-graders have been attending Emerald Coast Middle School for the past few years. Northwest Florida Daily News.

School bus safety: Lee County school and government officials discuss ways to improve school bus stop safety after an 8-year-old girl was hit and killed last week by a truck as she waited for her bus. Among the suggestions for improvements are the addition of benches at stops and adding sidewalks. Fort Myers News-Press.

Prom problem: Up to 40 Park Vista High School students may not be able to go to their prom Saturday because it was sold out before they could pick up their tickets. Waiting lists for Palm Beach County proms are not uncommon, say school officials, citing difficulties securing right-sized venues. Palm Beach Post.

District being sued: The Duval County School District is being sued by the family of an 3-year-old autistic boy who was allegedly locked in a dark closet by a teacher in 2016 at Alimacani Elementary School. The teacher, Linda Haggard, received a five-day suspension from the district. WJAX.

School watchman arrested: A Broward County high school watchman is arrested and accused of identity theft charges. Deputies say they found personal information of 19 students in the car of Christopher Corey Barker, 34, who worked at South Plantation High School. Sun Sentinel.

Guns at schools: An 18-year-old Duval County high school student is arrested and accused of bringing a stolen semi-automatic handgun to Ribault High School. WJXT. A student will be disciplined for bringing a pellet gun to Seabreeze Elementary School in Duval County. WJXT. Authorities are investigating a student who brought a toy gun to Jinks Middle School in Panama City and allegedly made “disturbing comments” to other students. WMBB.

Opinions on schools: The general knowledge teacher certification test is a classic example of the overregulation of a profession that is hurting that profession’s clients – in this case, Florida’s students. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

Student enrichment: The Santa Rosa County School District wins a silver Florida Healthy District Award from the Florida Partnership for Healthy Schools for its support of policies, practices and procedures promoting good student health. Santa Rosa Press-Gazette.

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