School closures: Some school districts around the state are reopening today, while others remain closed as Hurricane Dorian travels up the east coast of the state. Florida Department of Education. Florida Times-Union. Palatka Daily News. St. Augustine Record. WJAX. WJCT. Miami Herald. WTVJ. Sun Sentinel. WPLG. Palm Beach Post. TCPalm. Orlando Sentinel. Daily Commercial. Florida Today. WFTV. WKMG. WUFT. Space Coast Daily. WFTX. Tampa Bay Times. WBBH. Naples Daily News. Once the storm has passed and schools have reopened, school officials are likely to ask the state to waive the hours of classtime missed instead of opening schools over the Thanksgiving break to make up the day. Gradebook. Why were some schools so far from the storm closed? Ocala Star-Banner. Tampa Bay Times. WTSP.
Required courses: A bill to require human trafficking instruction in Florida’s public schools has been filed by state Rep. Patricia Williams, D-Fort Lauderdale. A companion bill was filed by Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale. Both lawmakers filed similar bills in the 2019 Legislature, but neither advanced. Florida Politics. Florida is just one of three states that require mental health education for K-12 students. Education Dive.
Investigation of official: A Pasco County Sheriff Office’s investigation has disclosed a romantic relationship and possible collusion on job bids between the school district’s former purchasing director and a roofing contractor. No charges were brought against Nicole Westmoreland, who resigned her job with the school district, or the contractor, even though the sheriff’s office said there was probable cause for charges or bribery and collusion. District officials say they have since changed the way they do business with roofing contractors. Tampa Bay Times.
Ex-worker tells her story: The woman who has accused the Sarasota County School District’s chief operations officer of sexual harassment and the superintendent of ignoring her complaints tells the school board the events have caused her anxiety and depression. Cheraina Bonner also denied that she is working with opponents of Superintendent Todd Bowden, as he has alleged, in accusing her former boss, COO Jeff Maultsby, of harassment. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Security in schools: Two Bay County teachers and a mixed martial arts instructor open a business in Panama City Beach to help other teachers defend themselves and their students against school shooters. Panama City News Herald.
Audit finds problems: An audit discloses that a nonprofit organization’s “processing error” delayed payments from the state’s Gardiner Scholarship Program to 583 students with special needs. The Florida Auditor General’s report says Step Up For Students (SUFS) “forgot to check” on documentation, leading to the delay. Doug Tuthill, president of the company, wrote in a response letter that the problem was resolved before the current school year started. SUFS, which hosts this blog, administers state scholarship programs used by more than 130,000 Florida students. Politico Florida. Step Up for Students provided a response to the Auditor General report here.
Student arrested: A 16-year-old Hernando County student has been arrested and charged with making a threat on social media against Central High School in Brooksville. Detectives say the Springstead High School student thought it would be funny. WFLA.
Opinions on schools: The new school report cards required by the Every Student Succeeds Act have promise, but there is no substitute for visiting your child’s school, for volunteering in your child’s classroom, or for having a conversation with your school administrators. Khanh-Lien R. Banko, Gainesville Sun. A $500-per-year scholarship for struggling readers is only a small step in attempts to address a glaring equity issue. But the first step is the most important step, and once again, Florida is taking that first step. Matthew Ladner, redefinED.
Student enrichment: South Florida high school students were able to do advanced medical research during the Summer Research Institute program at American Heritage’s new science building. Palm Beach Post. A $70,000 grant from Save the Children will be used to buy clothes for homeless Bay County students. Panama City News Herald.