Carvalho’s foundation investigated, teachers in Brevard get parental leave, desk shields and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Around the state: The lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s order to reopen schools continues to work its way through the appeals process. Thursday, the 1st District Court of Appeal asked the state and the Florida Education Association for arguments why a question of the FEA’s standing to file the suit can’t be consolidated with the state’s appeal of the initial judge’s ruling in favor of the union. Elsewhere in the state, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s foundation is being investigated for soliciting a donation from a company with which it did business, two-dozen more school resource officers have been hired by the Orange County School District, Brevard County teachers will get five days of paid parental leave after a birth or adoption of a child, and Sarasota schools made a $700,000 investment in foldable plexiglass shields for students’ desks that haven’t worked out quite as expected. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts and private schools:

Miami-Dade: School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s nonprofit foundation is being investigated for receiving a solicited donation from a company that had a business relationship with the district. K12 Inc., which provided the online learning platform for the district until the deal was terminated last week after ongoing technical issues, gave $1.57 million to the Foundation for New Education Initiatives, which Carvalho created in 2008 when he was the district’s associate superintendent. K12 and Carvalho both said the donation was intended to provide a $100 gift card for every teacher who scheduled online class training sessions before online-only learning school began Aug. 31. In a statement, the Office of the Inspector General said it would investigate the transfer of the money to the foundation, and the scheduled disbursement of those funds to teachers, because it “raised some concerns that the OIG believes should be reviewed.” Miami Herald. WPLG. WFOR.

Hillsborough: School crossing guards have a new tool to help keep students safe as they cross streets. Each of the 369 guards has been issued an electronic handheld siren by the sheriff’s office, which runs the crossing guard program. The siren makes a loud, piercing chirping sound when a guard presses its button. “I think it’s loud enough to garner anyone’s attention, even those drivers who like to keep their radios up a little bit louder than normal,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. The sirens cost the department about $6,200. Tampa Bay Times.

Orange: More than two-dozen new school resource officers have been hired by the district, and many of them will become the second officers assigned to middle schools. School board members and Superintendent Barbara Jenkins say that having two officers on some campuses improves safety. Critics call it excessive, and say it contributes to the disproportionate discipline of black students and perpetuates the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Orlando Sentinel. The district needs to hire 70 nurses to have one in each school. WKMG.

Palm Beach: Enrollment is about 5,000 students fewer than expected, district officials said this week. More than 1,500 of the “missing” students are kindergartners. Another count will be conducted Oct. 5-9 to update the numbers. If there’s no improvement, the district could lose almost $40 million in funding from the state. WPTV. A lawsuit has been filed against the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach and the K-8 All Saints Catholic School that alleges the school punished an 11-year-old girl after she told the principal she had been fondled by the son of wealthy donors to the church and the school. Jill Broz, the school’s principal, never investigated the claim, according to the suit, and instead suspended the girl for a day and made her write an essay after she spoke out against the boy on social media. Broz then shared the essay with other parents, the girl’s attorney said. Palm Beach Post. WPTV. School Superintendent Donald Fennoy answered questions from the public about schools reopening Monday during a Facebook question-and-answer session on Facebook on Thursday. WPTV.

Duval: The number of teachers resigning or retiring is up significantly over last year, according to the district. Forty teachers retired between Aug. 1 and Sept. 3 this year, records show, while the count last year was 22. Another 59 resigned, up from 48 in 2019. WTLV.

Polk: Fifty-nine schools have reported cases of the coronavirus since reopening, according to the district. The total number of cases now stands at 129. One was Frostproof High School football coach Rod McDowell, which resulted in the program being suspended for two weeks. Lakeland Ledger.

Brevard: Teachers will be given five days of paid parental leave after the delivery or adoption of a child. The agreement was reached this week in negotiations between the district and the union. They had previously come to an agreement on health insurance premiums. Other issues are still being negotiated. The district is offering starting teachers a salary of $46,650, with all other teachers receiving $709 more. Space Coast Daily. A virtual town meeting was held Thursday to discuss the proposal to change the Indian mascot for Edgewood Jr./Sr. High School in Merritt Island. A second virtual meeting will be held Oct. 15. The school plans to have a new mascot by the start of the 2021-2022 school year. WKMG. WOFL.

Osceola: The school district and teachers union remain at odds over salaries after the most recent negotiations. The district has offered to raise starting pay to $46,100, an increase of about $6,000, and raise experienced teachers $900. Union officials want more for veteran teachers. “Imagine that you’ve got years of experience and now the new guy is making the same salary as you. Not only that, but you’re expected to help train him, too,” said union president Lare Allen. Osceola News-Gazette.

Manatee: Families are being asked to describe their school experience so far this year, and whether they plan to switch learning formats, on a 15-question poll on the district’s website. It will be available until Sept. 27, and the results will be reviewed by the school board at its Oct. 8 meeting. Bradenton Herald. Three coronavirus cases were reported by the district, leading to 25 others being advised to quarantine. One of the cases, and 18 of the number quarantined, happened at Witt Elementary School. Twenty-six schools and district offices have reported no cases yet. Bradenton Herald.

Lake: The Education Foundation of Lake County is having “go-to kits” printed for every classroom in the district to serve as a guide to help teachers and students react quickly during an emergency. Steps to follow during any of 10 emergency situations will be detailed in the color-coded visual guides, which will cost the foundation about $13,000. Daily Commercial. The foundation also announced that its major fund-raiser, the Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire, has been canceled this fall because of the coronavirus. Daily Commercial.

Sarasota: Foldable plexiglass shields were among the safety measures that were put into place in district schools this summer to keep the coronavirus from spreading. The results of the $700,000 experiment have been mixed. Once schools opened, officials saw that the shields were easily knocked off desks. The cleaning protocol for the shields was rejected by the state, and the district then had to spend more money for clips to keep the shields in place. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Marion: Another 10,000 Chromebooks have been ordered by the district to move it toward the goal of having one for each of its 43,000 students. But school officials said they will need 17,000 more by next June to replace older models that can no longer be updated. About 3,000 hot spots have also been bought, and will be distributed to students who have no home Internet access. Ocala Star-Banner.

Northwest Florida: Schools in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Bay, Holmes, Gadsden, Washington and Walton counties are closed again today because of damage caused by Hurricane Sally, which made landfall Wednesday morning near Gulf Shores, Ala. Northwest Florida Daily News. Panama City News Herald. WFSU. WJHG. WEAR. WMBB. WTXL. WCTV. Florida Department of Education.

Charlotte: The school district is now offering another virtual learning option for students. The Charlotte Innovative E-Learning Model allows students to re-enroll in their zoned or chosen school and attend classes remotely on a regular school schedule. Parents must decide by Wednesday if they want to switch their child into the program. Charlotte Sun.

Citrus: The school district has announced it will pay the $108.95 fee for training, drug-testing and fingerprinting for anyone who becomes a substitute teacher for the 2020-2021 academic year and teaches at least 25 days. Those who are interested in substituting in a support position will be reimbursed $88.95 for fingerprinting and drug-testing. Citrus County Chronicle.

Hendry: Every school in the county now has students or employees under quarantine, according to the district’s coronavirus dashboard. WBBH.

Gulf: School board members approved a $27.3 million budget. The millage rate will drop about 3 percent, but spending will increase about 13 percent, mostly due to Hurricane Michael projects and repairs. Port St. Joe Star.

Transplants boost schools: Jewish schools around the state are seeing a surge in enrollment as more families migrate from other areas of the country, said Mimi Jankovits, executive director for Teach Florida, part of the national Teach Coalition advocacy organization for Jewish schools. She cited the lower cost of living in Florida, the climate, the wide variety of school options and the presence of K-12 scholarship programs. redefinED.

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