Overdose drug for schools, contract agreement, medical marijuana and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Overdose drug for schools: A bill that would allow Florida K-12 schools to use naloxone to revive students who overdose on opioids will be considered by a Senate committee this week. S.B. 120, filed by Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach, would give all Florida public schools the option to purchase the antidote drug “for use in the event a student has an opioid overdose.” School employees would be trained to use the drug, which is administered nasally or by injection, and it would have to be kept in a secure location in schools. A companion bill has been filed in the House by Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura. News Service of Florida.

Contract negotiations: The Orange County School District and teachers union have reached a tentative agreement on a one-year contract that gives most teachers raises of $2,100 or $2,800 and freezes health insurance premiums until September 2020. Two previous two-year offers from the district were rejected because the union felt they relied too heavily on bonuses instead of raises, boosted insurance premiums and provided no guarantee of a raise in the second year. This agreement goes to the school board Tuesday, and then teachers will vote on it. If the deal is approved, teachers could get the raise in a lump sum next month, retroactive to the beginning of the school year. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG.

Medical marijuana instruction: Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee have expressed concerns about Florida A&M’s proposed pilot program to train teachers on how to educate K-12 students about medicinal cannabis. Patricia Green-Powell, the interim director of FAMU’s Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative, says training teachers to provide information to students and answer their questions will be more effective than having guest speakers. Her overview of the program prompted questions from senators about financial oversight. “I think everybody here is asking the same questions after the same presentation I sat through,” said Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park. “At the conclusion of the presentation, I am not possessing a bunch of confidence in where that program has been and where it’s headed.” WFSU. Tallahassee Democrat.

Decision about school: Manatee County School Board members are expected to decide this week whether to renovate Gene Witt Elementary School or reconstruct it. The school, built in 1993, has leaky roofs, malfunctioning air-conditioning systems and is overcrowded. An earlier plan for renovation and expansion was dropped when costs went from $17 million to more than $25 million in nine months. The plans were scaled back and two options are now on the table: Spend $20 million to build an eight-classroom wing, repair roofs and make some upgrades on A/C systems and other projects, or spend $23.4 million and do everything the school needs. Bradenton Herald.

Charter schools: A highly regarded charter school in Hialeah Gardens is planning to close next month. The LBA (Latin Builders Association) Construction and Business Management Academy opened in 2012 to offer high school students industry certifications and college credits in construction management, business and marketing. School officials say the school didn’t meet its enrollment goals, and that the facility is subpar. Students will be transferred to Mater Academy, a nearby charter school. WLRN. A charter school is asking the Lake County School Board for an extra year to open in Clermont. Florida Charter Educational Foundation Inc., a nonprofit charter school organization affiliated with the for-profit Charter Schools USA, recently lost a court case for its preferred site, throwing its August 2020 deadline for opening in jeopardy. The board is expected to discuss the request Nov. 18. Daily Commercial.

Infighting intensifies: A supporter of Marion County Superintendent Heidi Maier in her battle with the school board is urging whistleblowers to file complaints against board members. Stan Hanson, a retired businessman and a donor in Maier’s successful 2016 run for the office, posted a note on Facebook that encouraged residents who feel they have been bullied by board members to send a complaint to an email address of a political action committee that is chaired by Hanson. Ocala Star-Banner.

School start time: After an attendance review committee study revealed that 460 of the 500 students at Oakcrest Elementary School in Ocala had been tardy at least three times since school began, the Marion County School Board has tentatively agreed to start the school’s day 10 minutes later. Classes would begin at 7:45 a.m. and end at 2:55 p.m., starting after the winter break, if the school board gives its final approval. Ocala Star-Banner.

Plane donation considered: Charlotte County School Board members will vote on whether to accept the donation of an airplane for the district’s airframe and powerplant mechanics program at Charlotte Technical College. Businessman Mike Zurbrigen, a business owner, said donating the Bellanca Viking would give students practical experience to learn a new trade. Charlotte Sun.

Notable deaths: W. George Allen, a Broward County attorney who helped integrate the county school district by filing a lawsuit in 1970, has died at the age of 83. He was the first African-American graduate from the University of Florida, in 1962. Sun Sentinel. WLRN. Tallahassee Democrat.

Schools mourn deaths: Students and employees at Foster Elementary School in Hillsborough County are mourning the murder of a teacher’s aide. Police say Renee Elizabeth Williams, 55, was shot and killed in her Brandon apartment. Her ex-boyfriend was arrested. WFTS. Tampa Bay Times. Belleview-Santos Elementary School students and staff are grieving over two students who were killed in a car crash last week. Troopers say Katalaya Nunez, 7, her 9-year-old sister Nevaeh and their grandfather died on their way home after school when their car was hit by an impaired driver. Ocala Star-Banner.

Club alleges rejection: A Collier County student claims that her school, Gulf Coast High in Naples, refused her request to start a pro-life club because it was too political and controversial. Sophomore Gabrielle Gabbard said she submitted the request Aug. 8, and was told by an assistant principal on Aug. 30 that the request was denied. District officials dispute her account, and say Gulf Coast “has been and is ready to open the club,” and will reach out to students today and start looking for a faculty sponsor. Catholic News Agency. Daily Caller.

Resource officer fired: An Orange County school resource officer has been fired after a video surfaces that shows him yanking a Westridge Middle School student’s head by her hair in an apartment parking lot a block from the school. Sheriff John Mina said the video of resource officer Harry Reid’s action will be sent to the state attorney for consideration of criminal charges. Orlando Sentinel. WFTV.

Employees and the law: A physical education teacher at Millennium Middle School in Seminole County has been arrested and accused of battery. Deputies say Mike Henry, 56, grabbed a student who was leaving the locker room without a shirt on and slammed him into a wall. WKMG. The Palm Beach County School Board is being sued by a father who alleges a teaching aide choked his 5-year-old son last year at Forest Hill Elementary School in West Palm Beach. That assistant, Joan Werkle, resigned a few days after the alleged incident. Palm Beach Post. A former teacher at a Jacksonville Bible school has been arrested and accused of sending nude photos of himself to a 13-year-old girl in 2017 and 2018. Deputies say Brian Reed, 26, who worked at Old Plank Road Bible School, was charged with lewd molestation, soliciting a minor via computer and transmission of harmful materials to a minor. WJXT. The former principal of Dunbar High School in Fort Myers has been arrested and accused of battery during a domestic argument. Charles Daily, 65, who retired in 2015 after 30 years with the district, also has twice run for a seat on the school board. Fort Myers News-Press. A former Polk County assistant principal has been arrested and accused of possessing child pornography. Deputies said William Hage, 76, a former assistant principal at Seth McKeel Middle School who retired 14 years ago, had “hundreds of videos and images of child pornography with girls of various ages, one as young as 8-12 months old.” Lakeland Ledger.

Removed from schools: A Brevard County elementary teacher who was fired for cursing at students and calling them stupid has been disciplined by the state. Teresa Sutton was transferred from Endeavour Elementary Magnet School in Cocoa to Apollo Elementary School in Titusville after complaints, then suspended and fired when she continued to berate students. The state gave her a letter of reprimand, fined her $750, placed her on probation for two years and ordered her to take a classroom management course. WFTV. A Tampa man who had been helping at his children’s Hillsborough County school has been barred from volunteering after his criminal past was discovered. Some wonder how he could have gotten so involved before his background was checked by the district. Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher cleared: A Columbia County School District investigation has cleared a high school teacher of bullying charges. Shelli Shoup, a teacher and cross-country coach at Columbia High School, had been accused by former students of bullying and intimidation. She resigning her coaching position and decided to leave the classroom, taking a job in the district’s home-schooling and virtual school division. WJXT.

School threats: For the second time in a month, a threat has been made by a student against Dr. Mona Jain Middle School in Bradenton. The student was not arrested, and discipline will be handled by the Manatee County School District. Bradenton Herald.

Opinions on schools: An SAT score isn’t the full story of a student’s potential. For that reason, we focus just as strongly on students’ classroom achievements, community service, participation in clubs and organizations, and industry certifications as we prepare students for college and career. Lake County Superintendent Diane Kornegay, Orlando Sentinel. Data indicates that the Duval County School District’s student performance is continually increasing, organization efficiency and effectiveness is evident in the current leadership and the Duval County School Board is providing governance that is ensuring adherence to policies that support institutional effectiveness. So why is the radical change from an appointed superintendent to an elected one being advocated by our legislative delegation? Isaiah Rumlin, Florida Times-Union. Black students in Florida are significantly underrepresented in taking the first Advanced Placement calculus course, signaling that the high school years are a nearly insurmountable barrier for black students who might otherwise be interested in and successful at careers in engineering and the sciences. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow. Arizona’s success with charter schools provides a model other states would be wise to follow. Matthew Ladner, redefinED.

Student enrichment: Bay County teachers and staff members get training about identifying stress factors and learning coping skills. WMMB. About 250 Brevard County students participated Friday in the annual Stomp Out Bullying walk, this time to Central Middle School in Melbourne. Florida Today. Students at Flagler Middle School in Miami receive new computers and lab supplies from the Chevron #FuelYourSchool campaign. WFOR. About 150 girls from two Jacksonville area middle schools get hands-on experience in STEM subjects, courtesy of the American Heart Association. WJAX. More than 1,400 pairs of socks are collected for homeless Lake County children by students in the Tavares High School Teaching Academy. Daily Commercial.

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