School requirements for Bahamas students waived, arming teachers, security and more

Jim Booth

School requirements waived: Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has waived the state’s usual school registration requirements to help displaced Bahamian students enroll in schools. Those requirements include proof of immunization, health exams, age and transcripts. Politico Florida. Students from the Bahamas who arrive in Palm Beach County are greeted by the school district with a backpack full of supplies, as well as clothing and shoes. Six students have arrived so far, but district officials expect more. Palm Beach Post. WPEC.

Arming teachers: Despite a new law that allows Florida school districts to arm willing teachers, only seven are choosing to do so, according to a survey of all 67 school districts by the Wall Street Journal. Bay, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Levy, Okeechobee, Putnam and Suwannee are the only school districts to approve arming teachers or acknowledge that they would consider it. Wall Street Journal.

Security in schools: A pilot program in the Seminole County School District is requiring students at a high school and three middle schools to wear student identification badges. The badges have the student’s picture, along with his or her student number and a bar code. Students who forget their badges get a warning the first time, then detention for subsequent violations. Hagerty High School was the first high school in central Florida to use the badges, and Markham Woods Middle, South Seminole Academy and Teague Middle are also in the program. WKMG. The Florida Senate Education Committee meets Monday to discuss how school districts are complying with state laws governing security in schools. News Service of Florida. Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow died along with 16 others in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, has a book published that reveals new details about the accused shooter’s past. Tampa Bay Times.

Sex education revisions: After announcing that sex education courses for Pasco County students will be updated, district officials now say some of the lessons in the state-approved curriculum will not be taught because they consider them inappropriate. Superintendent Kurt Browning says lessons on anatomy, pregnancy and effective use of condoms will be used, but those relating to gender identity and the use of gender-neutral pronouns will not. Gradebook.

Hygiene products in schools: Two Democratic legislators file bills that would require bathrooms in public schools to have free feminine hygiene products available. State Sen. Lauren Book of Plantation filed her bill late last week, and state Rep. Michael Grieco of Miami Beach followed with his own bill Monday. “Girls pay a price when these products aren’t free – and providing them will go a long way toward equity in education,” said Book. Florida Politics.

District budgets: The Charlotte County School Board will take a final vote today on a $326 million budget, which is about $24.2 million more than last year’s. Charlotte Sun.

Contract negotiations: The Pasco County teachers union rejects the school district’s offer of 8 to 12 percent pay raises over two years in return for the elimination of some teaching jobs and increased instruction time for those who remain. Union officials say the offer is divisive and puts an unfair burden on middle and high school teachers. Gradebook.

Suicide prevention: The Leon County School District creates two videos the encourage students to speak out if they need help or are considering suicide. Theater students from Godby, Leon and Maclay high schools contributed to the videos, which are part of the district’s “Knowing Signals” mental health campaign. Tallahassee Democrat.

Financial literacy courses: The Palm Beach County School District has trained 800 teachers to lead financial literacy classes. A new law requires districts to offer courses in the fundamentals of finances. WPTV.

Education podcasts: Step Up For Students president Doug Tuthill talks about the customization of education options and expanding equity for all students by broadening  scholarship choices. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer several state scholarship programs. redefinED.

Teaching as a second career: With the nationwide teacher shortage growing, school districts are getting creative to fill vacancies. Collier County has had some success helping professionals in a variety of fields who want to take up teaching as a second career. Naples Daily News.

Superintendent election: Citrus County school Superintendent Sandra Himmel will run for re-election in November 2020. Himmel has served four terms. Paul John Reinhardt is her only challenger so far. Citrus County Chronicle.

Personnel moves: David McKnight is the principal of the Don Soffer Aventura High School, which opened its doors for about 200 students last month. McKnight had been the senior director of education at Charter Schools USA. Miami’s Community Newspapers.

Dragon found in backpack: A Bay County School District student brings a bearded dragon to middle school in a backpack because leaving it at home all day would have made it lonely, according to district officials. The dragon was removed and placed in a box until the parents could pick it up. Panama City News Herald.

School employees disciplined: A teacher at a Palm Beach County alternative school may be fired for allegedly throwing a chair at disruptive students. District officials say Jacinta Larson, 60, who teaches at Turning Points Academy, admitted throwing the chair last December. The chair hit a desk, and the desk struck a student’s leg. Palm Beach Post. Three Duval County school employees are suspended without pay for “unprofessional conduct.” Jamall Collins, a teacher at Fort Caroline Middle School, was suspended five days after his arrest last year for grand theft. Eldre Allen, a paraprofessional at Arlington Middle, and Melanie Clemons, a data entry clerk at Carter G. Woodson Elementary, each were suspended for 10 days for undisclosed offenses. Florida Times-Union.

Students arrested: A 17-year-old student at Everglades High School in Broward County has been arrested and accused of bringing a gun to school in his backpack. WSVN. Miami Herald. A 15-year-old Baker County student is arrested and accused of planning a mass shooting at Baker County High School. WJXT. A 15-year-old Pinellas County student is arrested and accused of bringing a pellet gun to Northeast High School in St. Petersburg. Tampa Bay Times. A 12-year-old student at Caloosa Middle School in Lee County is arrested and accused of making a threat against the school on social media. Fort Myers News-Press.

Child left on bus: A 5-year-old Pasco County student who fell asleep on her after-school bus was discovered only when the driver and bus aide arrived at the final destination, the bus garage. District officials acknowledged that procedures weren’t followed, and the child’s mother says someone should be held accountable. WFLA.

Student enrichment: More than 450 students at Saint Clair Evans Academy in Jacksonville are presented with new shoes, thanks to a collaborative effort among the school, BB&T and Samaritan’s Feet International. WJXT.

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