Homeless students, cybersecurity academy, school records sought, Thanksgiving stories and more

Compiled by redefinED staff

Homeless students: The number of U.S. students being classified as homeless has dropped by 28 percent in the past year, according to a report compiled by SchoolHouse Connection, a nonprofit advocate for homeless youth, and Poverty Solutions, an initiative of the University of Michigan. That’s a decline of about 420,000 students who, advocates said, no longer have access to support from their schools for food, health care referrals and laundry services. They’ve been dropped from the count after school employees struggled to contact those students and their families because the pandemic closed many schools and reduced face-to-face contact. Barbara Duffield, the executive director of SchoolHouse Connection, said the group is worried that many of those children are not going to school at all. “The concern is that these losses pile up,” Duffield said. “Even though we know children are amazingly resilient, every day that they go without education, the further they fall behind, the more likely they are to disengage, to drop out, and to continue to experience homelessness as adults.” Chalkbeat. Education Dive.

Around the state: Broward officials are investigating a district security manager who is being paid $91,167 a year but is working two fulltime jobs, a Christian school in Orlando has been ordered to turn over information about background checks after an employee was arrested for allegedly soliciting sex videos from a student, a cybersecurity choice academy will begin next fall at a Palm Beach County high school, a Clay County School Board candidate who lost in the primary has been arrested for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor, and stories taught in schools about the first Thanksgiving in 1621 are getting more historically accurate. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts and private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: District officials are investigating a confrontation between a substitute teacher and a student Monday at Barbara Goleman Senior High in Miami Lakes. The student had asked to go to the bathroom and was told he would have to wait because the school has limited how many students can be in the bathroom at one time. After nearly a half-hour of waiting, the student began to leave and was confronted by the teacher. They grappled and the student was knocked to the floor. The incident was recorded on a student’s cell phone. WPLG.

Broward: A school district security manager hired almost a year ago has also continued to work at his previous job overseeing security at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens. Terrance Wilson, 54, makes $91,167 as a security manager for the Broward County School District providing day-to-day supervision of all security staff, and $72,000 as director of public safety and emergency management at the university. Wilson said he works for the district during the day and the university at night. District officials have launched an investigation, which union officials have criticized. Employees are allowed to have second jobs, said Anna Fusco, president of the teachers union that also represents technical support professionals, and no proof has been offered that shows Wilson is working for the university on district time. Sun Sentinel. Judy Dempsey, a teacher, trainer, author and Montessori School owner in Davie, talks about her background, how Montessori schools are different from micro schools, what lasting effects the pandemic may have on education, and whether some of the changes brought by the coronavirus will have a positive effect. redefinED.

Orange: The Florida Department of Education is demanding that the Winners Primary School in Orlando turn over information about the criminal and employment background checks done on all its employees after one of the Christian school’s teachers was arrested last week and accused of soliciting sex videos from a student. The school has until Dec. 7 to reply. The DOE had asked the school for those same records in each of the three previous years after reported incidents, and received enough documentation that it allowed Winners to continue to receive money through a state scholarship program. Orlando Sentinel.

Palm Beach: A cybersecurity choice academy will begin next fall at Santaluces Community High School in Lantana. Students will have the opportunity to earn industry certifications before they graduate through the program, which is made possible by a $750,000 grant from the Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation. WPTV. Superintendent Donald Fennoy talks about how the district has dealt with the coronavirus, the outbreak at Palm Beach Central High School, the good job parents are doing monitoring their children’s health, how the rapid-results process will work, problems with transportation as bus drivers get sick and routes change often, and the need for the district to better communicate with teachers. WPEC.

Lee: Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres has redesigned its cafeteria in a way to get students to start thinking about what’s next educationally for them. As they walk in for lunch, they see the words “YOU HAVE A FUTURE” on the wall along with logos and mascots from each of the district’s 15 public high schools. “Middle schools … do a great job in getting our kids to high school. I think we could do a better job getting them to the high school that they actually have a passion in going to,” said Joseph Restino, an assistant principal. Fort Myers News-Press.

St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River: St. Lucie Superintendent Wayne Gent talks about the impact the coronavirus has had in the district, especially on the district’s budget, the effectiveness of the mask policy, how parents and students are cooperating with protocols, how schools are preparing for more students returning to classrooms in the spring, the potential future for virtual learning, and more. WPEC. Coronavirus cases are up so far in the second quarter in the St. Lucie, Martin and Indian River school districts. Indian River saw the largest increase, from 37 cases in the first quarter to 63 in the second, as of Tuesday. Cases in Martin are up from 50 to 64, and in St. Lucie from 72 to 76. TCPalm.

Clay: A candidate for a school board seat who lost in the August primary has been arrested and accused of soliciting sex from a child. Deputies said Aaron Knowles, 46, who ran for the District 2 board seat, is charged with use of an electronic device to lure, solicit or entice a child to engage in an unlawful sex act and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. WJAX. WJXT. Florida Times-Union.

Leon: A school bus with two children aboard ran into a tree Tuesday when the driver passed out. Troopers said the driver, a 32-year-old woman, suffered serious injuries. The children, 8 and 5, were unhurt. Tallahassee Democrat. WTXL. WCTV.

Okeechobee: Assistant superintendent for administrative services Dylan Tedders talks about the impact the coronavirus has had in the district, the effectiveness of the mask policy, how schools are preparing for up to 90 percent of students returning to classrooms next semester, and more. WPEC.

Calhoun: Sidney Granger, a longtime teacher and coach in Altha and Blountstown, has died at the age of 72. He coached basketball, baseball and football. WMBB.

Around the nation: Most schools have moved beyond the stock Thanksgiving story of the Pilgrims sharing a friendly meal with native Americans in 1621 to a more nuanced and historically accurate take on the relationship between the settlers and the Wampanoag. Associated Press.

Opinions on schools: While Florida’s bullied children have access to a variety of education choice programs beyond the Hope Scholarship, the Florida Legislature should make this program more accessible. Expecting district school principals to investigate and acknowledge in writing that bullying may be occurring in their schools is unrealistic and is an obstacle that few families are able to overcome. Matthew Ladner, redefinED. Schools can be safe if Gov. Ron DeSantis makes Florida safer. Randy Schultz, Sun Sentinel. The University of South Florida should have consulted with local school districts on options before suddenly announcing it was closing the undergraduate College of Education program. Tampa Bay Times. As you sit down and give thanks before plowing into your turkey dinner, maybe give a shout out to your local education professionals. Because the world may seem like it’s in bad shape. But consider how much worse it would be without them. Gil Smart, TCPalm.

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