Principal’s firing deferred, Hundley resigns, security report questioned and more

Principal’s fate delayed: The Palm Beach County School Board postpones a decision on whether to fire former Spanish River Community High School principal William Latson, who was recently removed from the school after telling a parent that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.” Superintendent Donald Fennoy withdrew his original recommendation for dismissal, and instead ordered an internal investigation of Latson’s actions. Palm Beach Post. Meanwhile, Allison Castellano, principal at Omni Middle School in Boca Raton in Palm Beach County, is chosen to replace Latson as principal at Spanish River. Sun Sentinel.

Hundley steps down: The controversial CEO and former principal of a financially struggling Manatee County charter school says he is resigning. But Eddie Hundley also said he plans to maintain a position with some influence at Lincoln Memorial Academy, though school officials wouldn’t say what that role might be. Hundley’s educator’s certificate was revoked by the state in May for five years after he gave job recommendations for a teacher who was under investigation for sexual misconduct, but Hundley remained at the school as the CEO. That prompted state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to urge the school district last week to dismiss Hundley. “Lincoln Memorial Academy’s continued employment of Mr. Hundley flies in the face of all our efforts to provide a safe and secure learning environment for our students,” Corcoran wrote. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Bradenton Herald.

School safety report: Several north Florida school superintendents are criticizing a statewide grand jury’s interim report that concludes some of the state’s 67 districts “have failed — or refused — to accept their responsibility for school safety.” The report, issued Friday, doesn’t name those districts, which is the focus of the criticism. Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna called the report vague and said it wrongly “lumped all 67 counties into a generalized statement of noncompliance.” Tallahassee Democrat. WTXL. Both Attorney General Ashley Moody and Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who chaired the state commission that investigated the Parkland school shootings, ripped noncompliant districts. WTSP. Politico Florida.

Superintendent salaries: Three Florida school superintendents are paid more than $300,000 a year, and another 10 make at least $200,000 annually, according to the Florida Department of Education. Miami-Dade’s Alberto Carvalho is paid a base salary of $352,874, while Broward’s Robert Runcie makes $342,370 and Orange County’s Barbara Jenkins $329,493. The average salary for a Florida superintendent is $155,269, which is slightly under the national average of $159,603. The Center Square.

Teachers overpaid in error: More than 90 Charlotte County teachers who were overpaid by mistake must reimburse that money, say school district officials. The incorrect payments were made to teachers who came from other districts and were credited with more experience than they have. Charlotte Sun. WINK.

School start times: Pinellas County school officials have hired two consultants and convened a task force to figure out how to start the county’s high schools at a later time, preferably around 8:30 a.m. But this fall, that later time is by five minutes, to 7:25 a.m. School officials say they can’t do any better without further study because any changes in the start times will increase costs for busing, and the district can’t afford that. Tampa Bay Times.

District dress code: Dress codes will be somewhat relaxed for Volusia County high school students when schools resume next month. The school board approved a revised policy that permits high school students to wear polo shirts of any solid color or school spirit shirts on any day of the week, and pants or skirts of any solid color. Ripped jeans are still prohibited. Elementary and middle school students still have a dress code that requires polo shirts in colors chosen by schools, and navy, black, khaki or gray pants or skirts. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

School chaperones to be vetted: The Volusia County School District will start doing broader background checks on all adult volunteers who are chaperoning overnight trips. Previously, chaperones were subject only to a review on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s sex offender registry. WFTV.

Turnaround schools: Focusing more teacher attention on struggling students is credited for boosting the state’s grade of Metcalfe Elementary School in Gainesville from a D to a B. Principal Jacquatte Rolle said she tells students to “never lose sight of our vision: To dream, believe and achieve.” Gainesville Sun. The Leesburg community is rallying around struggling Beverly Shores Elementary School with donations and benefits to boost funding for programs. The school, which received an F grade from the state, will also get more focused attention from the district. Daily Commercial.

Meetings shown online: Pasco County School Board meetings are now being broadcast, though not live. Instead, they are being recorded and being posted to the board’s YouTube channel. Gradebook.

New school opening: A private Christian K-5 school is opening next month in Hernando County. Life Primary School, which is a new ministry of the Great Life Church in Spring Hill, is expected to have about 100 students. Tampa Bay Times.

Marker for school: A marker noting the history of the first school for black students in southwest Polk County will be placed at Union Academy’s current location on Friday. It’s important for students “to know their history, to know about the teachers who were so invested here,” said Jan Parham, a commissioner on Polk County’s Historic Commission. Lakeland Ledger.

Educators honored: Heather Price is named principal of the year for the Brevard County School District. Price leads the Brevard Virtual School. Sarah Robinson of Viera High School is chosen as the district’s assistant principal of the year. She also served as interim principal this past year and subsequently been been appointed principal at Viera. Space Coast Daily.

School board elections: Sarah Leonardi, a teacher at Coconut Creek High School, says she is running for the District 3 seat on the Broward County School Board. The seat is held by Heather Brinkworth. Also running is Jonathan May. Florida Politics.

School stadium closed: The football stadium at Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach has been closed because it’s been been ruled unsafe to use. Okaloosa County school officials have hired engineers to assess what repairs are needed at the 52-year-old stadium. Northwest Florida Daily News. WEAR.

Fire at school: A lightning strike is being blamed for the weekend fire that destroyed the 7th-grade building at McLane Middle School in Hillsborough County. Gradebook.

Opinions on schools: The Duval County School Board deserves the right to appeal the city attorney’s curious interpretation of state law has allowed Jacksonville’s City Council to decide it has the authority to decide whether a referendum on a half-cent sales tax increase for schools will be held, and when. Florida Times-Union. The appalling conditions at the campus of Pahokee Jr./Sr. High School are shameful, and demand immediate attention. Palm Beach Post. Florida officials should treat student vaping like an epidemic, because it is. Fighting it will take time, persistence and education. Daytona Beach News-Journal. As new Center for Reinventing Public Education research shows, homeschoolers are becoming more diverse, and so are their motivations. This shifting landscape might hold lessons for public education as a whole. Robin Lake and Travis Pillow, The 74. It’s time to add faith-based charter schools. John E. Coons, redefinED.

Student enrichment: Brenton Zhang, a senior at Winter Park High School in Orange County, notches perfect scores on both the SAT and ACT tests — on his first attempt. Fewer than 1 percent of students achieve perfect scores. Orlando Sentinel. About 500 students learned principles of enterpreneurship at the recent Youth Economic Development Conference at Miami Dade College North Campus. Miami Herald. Middle school students at low-income Volusia County schools are learning about solar power, how to purify pond water and experimenting with bottle rockets at the school district’s Step Up 2 STEM program. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

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