Principal to be fired, sales tax lawsuit, school security, charter schools and more

Jim Booth

Principal to be fired: The Palm Beach County principal who told a parent that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” and then blamed his subsequent demotion on that parent will be fired, says Superintendent Donald Fennoy. “I have lost confidence in his leadership,” Fennoy said of former Spanish River Community High School principal William Latson. “I removed him from his position as principal and now I am making a recommendation to the school board to not renew his contract.” The call for Latson’s dismissal intensified after the contents of his departure message to school staff were revealed. In it, he blamed the parent’s “false statements” for the uproar. Palm Beach Post. Miami Herald. WJCT. Sun Sentinel. WLRN. News Service of Florida. The director of the University of Miami Holocaust Teacher Institute is suggesting that principals and administrative staff at all south Florida schools go through the same Holocaust training that teachers do. Sun Sentinel.

School sales tax hike: The Clay County School Board will consider suing the county commission after it rejected the board’s request to place a sales tax hike on the November ballot. The resolution the board approved included directions for the board attorney to take take “whatever steps or actions are necessary” to get the measure before voters in a special election Nov. 5. Board member Tina Bullock called the commission’s decision “very disheartening” and asked, “When is the timing right? How long do our students have to wait?” Florida Times-Union. WJXT. WJAX.

Security in schools: A Virginia company will be paid $1.3 million by the Florida Department of Transportation to revise the Florida Safe Schools Assessment Tool, which will “incorporate recommendations that were legislatively mandated.” The tool will be used to assess threats and vulnerabilities at schools. News Service of Florida. A building for a security guard will be installed at the entrance of Leon High School in Tallahassee as part of school hardening measures required by the state. Tallahassee Democrat. The signing of school security agreements between the Citrus County School Board and the sheriff’s office has been delayed while some of the language in the contracts is clarified. Citrus County Chronicle. The St. Johns County School District is using state funding to add four mental health professionals to help students when schools open in the fall. St. Augustine Record. This fall, three Duval County schools will be testing a new emergency notification system that includes a panic button in classrooms. WJAX.

Charter, district fight: The Manatee County School District has sent six notices of noncompliance since June 25 to the Lincoln Memorial Academy, a charter school that is struggling financially. “Clearly, there’s a concentrated effort to suggest Lincoln is not in compliance,” said Lincoln principal Eddie Hundley. “While they have made six complaints in the last month, as opposed to their oversight that should have been happening all year. It should be an indicator that this is calculated.” District officials say the school has failed to pay its bills for the past three months and is refusing to respond to the district’s questions. Hundley has filed a complaint against the district to the Florida Department of Education, alleging the district isn’t properly funding the school. Bradenton Herald.

Charter school vote: The Collier County School Board will consider terminating its  contract with the Mason Classical Academy charter school in Naples at today’s meeting. An investigation of the school indicated that it had broken its charter contract, showed a lack of financial oversight and committed Sunshine Law violations. Mason board president Kelly Lichter says the school board has no sufficient grounds to terminate the school’s charter, and will consider legal action if it does. Naples Daily News.

District’s finances: The Flagler County School District is projecting a $1.8 million budget deficit, and officials say the cause is the disparity between what residents pay in taxes for schools and what the state sends back to the district. Flagler ranks 62nd among the state’s 67 counties, says Tom Tant, the district’s chief financial officer. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Education podcasts: Step Up For Students president Doug Tuthill talks about school choice in Florida. The organization hosts this blog and helps administer five scholarships for state students. EDChoice.

Florida student test scores: More school districts from around the state are reporting how their students did on the FSA tests, and what the scores mean. Gadsden County Times. Florida Today. Captiva Current.

Old school a landmark? A St. Johns County board is considering designating the century-old Hastings High School building as a local landmark to keep it from demolition. The school closed in 1985, and has been empty since the town of Hastings was dissolved in March 2018. St. Augustine Record.

Bethune statue: Gov. Ron DeSantis has officially requested that a statue of educator and civil rights icon Mary McLeod Bethune replace that of a Confederate general as one of two representing Florida in the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. Her statue would join that of John Gorrie, widely considered to be the father of air-conditioning. News Service of Florida.

Reading program: The United Way of Marion County has plans to expand its Reading Pals program from 16 to 19 elementary schools this fall. The program provides extra help for kindergarten students so they can be reading at or above grade level by 3rd grade. Ocala Star-Banner.

Teacher in Senate race: Amanda Linton, who teaches 9th- and 10th-grade English-language learners at Strawberry Crest High School in Hillsborough County, has announced she is running as a Democrat for the Florida Senate District 21 seat that is currently held by Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton. Galvano is leaving office because of term limits. Florida Politics.

Opinions on schools: Duval County residents should have a vote on the half-cent sales tax increase this year. The economic impact of a $2 billion public works project is especially important to Jacksonville’s high-poverty areas. Florida Times-Union. The old George Washington Carver High School is a treasure that belongs to all of Palm Beach County, and it should be preserved. The good news is there is a deal in place to do just that, and the school district should honor it. The challenge of preserving the old campus’ legacy now rests with the Delray Beach community. Palm Beach Post. Here’s why investing in early education pays huge dividends. Cynthia Falardeau, TCPalm. Private school enrollment in Florida is rising even without the aid of school vouchers. Patrick R. Gibbons, redefinED.

Student enrichment: Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak congratulates Palm View Elementary School in Manatee County for adopting the Woz Pathways, a series of classes in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. Bradenton Herald. Twenty-nine Sarasota County schools are now serving produce from school gardens and local and stat farmers as part of the district’s farm-to-school program. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

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