Principal reassigned, private school enrollment up, safety database and more

Principal removed: The Palm Beach County principal who told a parent that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” has been removed from the high school following the uproar caused by his remarks. District officials say Spanish River High School principal William Latson’s comments have “become a major distraction for the school community,” and he’s been reassigned to an undisclosed position in the administrative offices. Latson has apologized for his comments, made in 2018, and said they “did not accurately reflect my professional and personal commitment to educating all students about the atrocities of the Holocaust.” Two state legislators are calling on the district to fire Latson. Palm Beach Post. Sun Sentinel. WPEC. Miami Herald.

Private school enrollment up: The number of Florida students attending private pre-K-12 schools increased 2.7 percent over last year, according to a report from the Florida Department of Education. The 380,129 students enrolled is an increase of 10,129, and represents 11.8 percent of all students. The number of private schools also increased by 39, to 2,689. redefinED.

School safety database: Thirty-two advocacy groups have collaborated on a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis urging him to not launch a school safety database because the data collected could stigmatize students. The database, which is supposed to go live Aug. 1, would collect personal information about students’ discipline and mental health records  that could include data about their race, religion, disabilities and sexual orientation. Among the groups signing the letter are the Florida League of Women Voters, ACLU of Florida, the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund and the Autism Society of Florida. Politico Florida. Tampa Bay Times.

Educational diversity: An analysis of state data shows that while only 37 percent of the students in the state’s public schools are white, 70 percent of the teachers are. Black students make up 22 percent of public school enrollment, but only 14 percent of teachers. About 34 percent of students are Hispanic, but only 16 percent of teachers. That’s important because studies have shown benefits for nonwhite students who have teachers of their own race or ethnic origin. Florida Phoenix.

Test scores analyzed: Escambia County students landed in the bottom half to bottom third of Florida school districts in most categories of the recently announced Florida Standards Assessments test scores for student in grades 3-12. But Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says the district is making progress and he expects better school grades from the state when they’re released. “We’ve run our own projection, and … it won’t be anywhere near the 14 D’s we had last year,” he said. “We had no F’s last year. We don’t believe we’re going to have an F again. Overall progress is we’re moving in the right direction. There are always going to be a few exceptions here and there that did not meet what we thought would happen.” Pensacola News Journal. School-by-school test scores in south Florida schools. Sun Sentinel. School-by-school test scores in Brevard County. Florida Today.

Vouchers and gay students: A handful of Tampa Bay area private schools that accept tax credit scholarship money from the state have policies against admitting gay students or children of same-sex couples. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the scholarship and several others. The nonprofit’s president, Doug Tuthill, says, “I’ve never seen evidence of a single LGBTQ+ scholarship student being treated badly by a scholarship school. And I’ve looked.” Tampa Bay Times.

Employees honored: Lisa Fabulich, a biology teacher from Gainesville, was named the Florida Virtual School teacher of the year for 2019-2020. She also recently received the Excellence in Teaching/Training award from the United States Distance Learning Association. Florida Virtual School. Gainesville Sun. Jose Vazquez has been named the Pasco County School District’s school security guard of the year. Vazquez works at Seven Springs Elementary School. Tampa Bay Times.

Principal’s mission: Adrian Anthony, the first black man appointed to a principal’s job in the Pasco County School District since the 1970s, says he will focus on student and community needs when Hudson Elementary School resumes classes next month. “For me, it’s all about school culture,” he said. “We’re going to have fun. It will definitely be an adventure. And we will come out better.” Tampa Bay Times.

Personnel moves: Two Marion County administrators are switching jobs. John Kerley is the new principal at the Madison Street Academy in Ocala, replacing Ryan Bennett, who takes Kerley’s old job as the district’s Area 2 director. Ocala Star-Banner. Sarah Fortier, who has been the principal of a Vermont school, is named the principal at St. John Vianney Catholic School in St. Pete Beach. Rutland Herald. Janice Kershaw, the CEO and president of the Brevard Schools Foundation, is elected chair of the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations. Jennifer Vigne, the president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, is elected vice chair. Space Coast Daily. Sarasota Magazine.

Ex-teacher sentenced: A former Clay County teacher has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for distributing child pornography. Christopher Shawn Potter, 50, taught at Clay High School in 2016 and 2017 before he was arrested for sending a video of a young child being sexually abused to an undercover officer. Florida Times-Union. WJAX.

Opinions on schools: Having a school principal who believes he is unable to declare the Holocaust as a factual event calls into question the actions of the district’s upper ranks where a principal would not feel empowered to address this issue head-on. County Commissioner Robert Weinroth, Palm Beach Post.

Student enrichment: The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is honored for its child literacy efforts by the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The Suncoast branch operates in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Charlotte counties. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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