Two more deputies fired, mental health services, email investigation and more

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Security in schools: Two more Broward County sheriff’s deputies have been fired for neglect of duty during the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, bringing the total number of officers fired to four. Seventeen students and staff were murdered and another 17 wounded at the Parkland school. Sheriff Gregory Tony’s 124-page report, released Wednesday, pointed to ignored policies, missed tips, radios that didn’t work properly and deputies who hid from the shooter instead of trying to stop him. Sun Sentinel. Miami Herald. Politico Florida. Associated Press. Palm Beach Post. Hernando County School Board members are considering joining the state’s guardian program to supplement the resource officers now in schools. Tampa Bay Times. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who headed the state commission investigating the Parkland school shooting, takes another shot at school districts that aren’t in compliance with school safety requirements. News Service of Florida. WFTS. WPTV. WCTV. The Monroe County School District finishes its safety plan and submits it to law enforcement agencies for review. Key West Citizen.

Mental health services: More mental health services are on their way to students in the Panhandle who are trying to cope with the trauma caused by Hurricane Michael last October. Florida’s first lady, Casey DeSantis, announced that telehealth services will be available to 35,000 students in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Franklin and Liberty counties through a $2.3 million federal grant. Another $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will expand the number of licensed school social workers to help counselors in Bay County schools. And the Bay County School District also received $200,000 from the St. Joe Company Community Foundation to hire two additional mental health clinicians. News Service of Florida. Miami Herald. Panama City News Herald. WJHG. U.S. Department of Education. American School and University.

Email investigation: Lee County School Board members have ordered Superintendent Greg Adkins to investigate who on the district staff is reading their emails and who authorized it, and report back in three days. A recent internal report about alleged misconduct in the district’s maintenance department was emailed to all board members, but not before the document was watermarked with specific numbers corresponding to the board members. “We are the employers, they are the employees,” said board member Melisa Giovannelli. “I don’t think that employees have the right to watermark public records, the Sunshine is the Sunshine. Records are records.” Fort Myers News-Press.

Sales tax referendum: Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says he will support placing a referendum on the November 2020 ballot boosting the sales tax by a half-cent for replacing and repairing Duval schools if the school district presents a plan that is “financially prudent and well thought-out.” He says such a plan will have to include yearly projections for sales tax dollars, a total cost for the work and a “cost analysis per location including transparent accounting.” He also said the district must “acknowledge that charter schools are public schools and therefore should be included in this plan to expand the choices available to families.” Florida Times-Union. WJXT. Ten-year-old Audrey Parman, a 5th-grader at Fishweir Elementary School in Jacksonville, writes a letter to Curry urging him to support the referendum because beams had to be installed in her school to hold up the building’s roof. Florida Times-Union. WJXT.

Charter expansion: The IDEA Academy nonprofit charter school system from Texas has confirmed it plans to open at least six schools in the Jacksonville area, starting in 2022. State officials have been pushing for highly regarded charter school companies to expand into areas in Florida with persistently struggling schools. “They (IDEA) have this amazing track record around the country,” said Adam Miller, charter office executive director for the Florida Department of Education. “For 13 consecutive years, every one of their graduating seniors have gone to college.” Florida Times-Union.

Democratic debate: The first Democratic debate held little substantive discussion of education issues, briefly touching on school safety and praising the activism of Parkland students as a lead-in to a lengthy discussion of the need for gun control measures. Also mentioned in passing were student debt, early childhood education and preparing students for a changing economy. The second debate, with 10 different candidates, is tonight in Miami. Education Week. Chalkbeat.

State of the district: Clay County Superintendent Addison Davis talks about the just-finished school year, citing improvements in school security and mental health services for students, new academic programs, updated technology and expansion of extracurricular activities. Clay Today.

Scanners for school buses: Identification scanners will be placed on Manatee County School District buses over the next year. Students will be required to scan their identification cards, which are also used to buy lunch at school. That information will help drivers know what students are on the bus and when they should get off. Bradenton Herald.

‘Power Hour’ restored: The original “Power Hour” to help students has been resurrected but renamed at West Port High School in Marion County. The time, which will now be called ALPHA Time, offers students 50 minutes to be tutored, attend club meetings and hang out with friends. Ocala Star-Banner.

Questionable materials: Officials from both the St. Lucie and Martin school districts say they never used controversial K-6 social studies materials from Studies Weekly, a Utah company. The materials have been called biased and culturally insensitive in an investigation by Education Week. TCPalm.

Push for trainers: An athletic trainer from Winter Haven has started a petition drive urging the Polk County School District to have trainers at every high school. Lloyd Knudson started the drive after 14-year-old Hezekiah Walters collapsed and died during football workouts June 11 at Middleton High School in Tampa. District officials say they have begun buying cold water immersion tubs for the coming school year to help cool overheated athletes. WFLA.

Teaching assistant arrested: An Escambia County teaching assistant has been arrested and accused of battery for allegedly grabbing a student by the shirt and giving him a “hard tug” during an after-school program in April. Gwendolyn Hunter, 57, was placed on administrative leave from Longleaf Elementary School. Pensacola News Journal.

Student enrichment: More than 100 Florida high school juniors are honored by the Florida Department of Education as Sunshine State Scholars. Florida Department of Education. Trinity Preparatory School’s summer production of Once on This Island is raising money for the Lumiere D’Education Foundation’s Haitian school in rural La Plaine. Orlando Sentinel.

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