Archive | Florida schools roundup

Florida schools roundup: Arming teachers, school cop’s failure and more

Arming teachers: Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, says he supports the idea of arming teachers. His endorsement likely means it will be included in the package of proposed gun-related bills being announced today by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott. Tampa Bay Times. Sun-Sentinel. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. News Service of Florida. The idea of teachers with guns has some support among politicians, but most educators don’t like it. Tampa Bay Times. Palm Beach Post. Florida Times-Union. Associated Press. WEAR. The National Association of School Resource Officers also opposes the idea of arming teachers, noting in a statement that it “strongly recommends that no firearms be on a school campus except those carried by carefully selected, specially trained school resource officers.” Gradebook. President Donald Trump, who likes the idea of arming select teachers and school staff, slams Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart for suggesting more active shooter drills should be considered. Tampa Bay Times. Politico Florida. New York Times.

School cop resigns: The school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School never entered the building last week to confront the shooter, says Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. The officer, Scot Peterson, rushed to the building when he heard the gunfire but waited outside for four minutes. Israel says Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.” Peterson, 54, resigned Thursday after he was suspended without pay. Four years ago, Peterson was named school resource officer of the year in Parkland. Sun-SentinelMiami Herald. USA Today. Associated Press. Law enforcement officials were warned repeatedly that alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz was dangerous and a possible school shooter. Miami Herald. Palm Beach Post. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, says a special investigative committee will look into the botched response to the shooting, and it could be chaired by a parent of one of the slain students. Politico Florida.

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Florida schools roundup: Marches, meetings, walkouts, a return and more

Students march: Survivors of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Valentine’s Day lead a march of thousands to the state Capitol, then meet with state lawmakers to call for a ban on assault-style weapons. They say the response from legislators was discouraging, but they vow to continue to fight. Sun-Sentinel. Associated Press. Miami Herald. Palm Beach PostPolitico Florida. Gatehouse Media. Tallahassee Democrat. News Service of Florida. The 74. More than 40 survivors of the Parkland, Columbine and Sandy Hook school shootings and parents plead with President Donald Trump to make students safe during a meeting Wednesday. “How many children have to get shot?” asked Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in Parkland. Trump vowed to bolster background checks and mental health screenings, and supported the idea of allowing teachers and staff to carry guns at schools. Associated Press. New York Times. Education WeekPolitico Florida. Why arming teachers is highly unlikely to happen. Politico Florida. Parkland students have raised $3.5 million to finance a national gun-control movement. Miami Herald. Sun-Sentinel. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is jeered at a town hall meeting held by CNN. Sun-Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. High school students around Florida walk out of classes and take part in marches Wednesday as a show of support for Douglas High students. Sun-SentinelSun-SentinelMiami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Palm Beach PostGradebook. WFTV. Fort Myers News-Press. WFTX. WESH. Florida Today. TCPalm. Naples Daily News. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Key West Citizen. Associated Press.

Returning to Douglas: Broward County school officials detail the plan to reintroduce students to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Counselors and an added police presence will greet the students when they return Tuesday for a half-day of classes. Sunday, the school will hold a “voluntary campus orientation” with a variety of support services available. Miami Herald.

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Florida schools roundup: Education bill, gun politics, school safety and more

Education bill: The Senate Education Committee unanimously approves a major rewrite of the House’s omnibus education bill, H.B. 7055. The Senate version would put armed law enforcement officers at every school in the state, make state scholarships available to bullied students with substantiated claims, boost oversight of private school choice programs, require charter schools to return facilities to districts if they close, and create a comprehensive mental health program for schools, among other things. It also removes the provision that would decertify teachers unions if membership falls below half of the members represented. The revised bill now moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee. redefinED. Associated Press. Gradebook. Politico Florida. Florida Politics. News Service of Florida.

Parkland and politics: The Florida House overwhelmingly rejects a proposal to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines as about 100 students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School look on. The vote was 71-36 against H.B. 219, Students say the shootings have changed them, and vow to continue fighting for school safety. Miami Herald. Sun-SentinelPalm Beach Post. Politico Florida. Tallahassee Democrat. After meetings with superintendents and law enforcement officials, Gov. Rick Scott says he will have a plan of action in response to the shootings in Parkland to take to legislators by Friday. “We have two weeks left in session at that point, and my goal is to get something accomplished,” says Scott. Politico Florida. WKMG. News Service of FloridaFlorida Politics. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. A Senate hearing on a bill that would allow designated people to carry concealed weapons at schools is postponed Tuesday. Miami Herald. President Donald Trump calls on the Justice Department to ban all devices like bump stocks, an attachment that can turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one. Associated Press. New York Times. The Broward County Charter Review Commission says it will consider giving voters the chance to decide what guns should be permitted in the county. Sun-Sentinel. Pinellas County School Board member Linda Lerner wants the board to officially support a ban on assault weapons. Gradebook. Leon County School Superintendent Rocky Hanna is criticized by the chairman of the county’s Republican Party for giving excused absences to students who wanted to join a rally at the Capitol. Tallahassee Democrat.

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Florida schools roundup: Education bill, student march, gun bills and more

Education bill: The Florida legislative session moves into its final three weeks, with a series of education issues to be decided. The Senate is reviewing the House education bill, and among the proposals being considered is replacing the House bill with the Senate version. Both bills would establish a Hope Scholarship for students who are victims of bullying or violence, though they disagree on how to pay for the program, and force teachers unions to disband if paying membership falls below 50 percent of the employees represented. Higher education issues, such as permanently funding an increase in Bright Futures scholarships, also will be addressed. News Service of Florida. redefinEDGradebook. WUSF. Miami New Times. Gatehouse Media. WLRN. About 150 Tampa Bay area teachers protest against H.B. 7055 just down the street from House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s Land O’Lakes office. Gradebook.

Political pressure: Marjory Stoneman Douglas students plan a march on the capital Wednesday to demand action on gun safety, just one of several rallies planned. Florida legislators say they will consider laws enacting an age limit to buy an assault rifle and add a three-day waiting period for all rifle purchases. Gov. Rick Scott has organized three meetings today to discuss school safety improvements and ways to keep guns out of the hands of people with mental illnesses. Miami Herald. Associated PressPolitico Florida. News Service of FloridaOrlando Sentinel. Sunshine State News. Florida Politics. WLRN. Legislation pushed by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will be considered once legislators strip out a provision allowing people to get a concealed carry permit without a thorough background check. Politico Florida. President Donald Trump says he would support an improvement in putting criminal offenses and other data into the national instant background check system. Sun-Sentinel. Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie has spent much of the past five days acting as a tour guide for state and national politicians to the tragic shooting in Parkland, with the bullet casings and pools of blood still on the floors. “We’ve given them detailed tours and explanations of what has happened so they become sensitized to the tragedy and we can get the support we need,” Runcie says. “We only have one opportunity to make sure they understand what was inflicted on our community.” Miami Herald.

Cruz’s rifles, appearance: Accused school shooter Nikolas Cruz had purchased 10 rifles in the year leading up to the killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last week. CNN. Cruz made his first appearance in a Broward circuit court Monday, but said nothing. The appearance was to discuss a sealed defense document that reportedly involved access of defense lawyers to Cruz. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. WKMG. NBC News. Sun-Sentinel. The Florida Department of Children and Families will release 22 pages from a 2016 report compiled after caseworkers visited Cruz. The DCF got approval for the unusual move from a Broward County judge, which was necessary because Florida law prohibits the release of DCF files without a court order. Miami Herald.

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Florida schools roundup: Teacher bonuses, shootings aftermath and more

Teacher bonuses: More than 163,500 Florida teachers qualify for bonuses under the state’s Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program, according to Florida Department of Education data. The bonuses range from $800 to $7,200. More than 9,000 will get the top awards. They qualify by being rated highly effective and scoring in the top 20 percent when they took the ACT or SAT. Also receiving bonuses of $4,000 or $5,000 are 638 principals. The state will spend almost $215 million on the bonuses, which will be paid by April 1. The bonus program was created in 2015 but has been controversial, and the Legislature is considering bills this year to amend it. Orlando Sentinel.

More on Nikolas Cruz: Suspected school shooter Nikolas Cruz would plead guilty to killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland to avoid the death penalty, according to his lawyer. Sun-Sentinel. The FBI apologizes for not following up a tip in January that Cruz may have been planning a school shooting. Miami Herald. Associated Press. The Florida Department of Children and Families investigated Cruz after he made threatening posts on social media, but determined he was a low risk to harm himself or others. Sun-SentinelMiami Herald. Cruz was regularly in trouble for cussing, insulting people and disrupting classes when he attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to his disciplinary file. Sun-Sentinel. The couple who took Cruz into their home after his mother died say, “We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know. We didn’t see this side of him.” A longtime friend also called Cruz “lonely and ostracized.” Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald.

Other developments: Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie says the district is proposing to tear down Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Legislators agree. Runcie also says the school will remain closed through at least Wednesday. Sun-Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. A hospital spokesperson says the last critically injured victim of the shooting is improving. Sun-Sentinel. Stoneman Douglas principal Ty Thompson posts an emotional video message for the community. Sun-Sentinel. These are the heroes of the massacre. Miami Herald. CNN. More than nine out of 10 U.S. public schools now hold regular active shooter drills. Vox. An expert on school security warns officials to avoid “knee-jerk” reactions to improving security, and lists several things districts can do now to lead to safer schools. New Orleans Times-Picayune.

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Florida schools roundup: More on school shooting, education budget and more

Deadly shooting: Broward County detectives say Nikolas Cruz has confessed to killing 17 people and wounding more than a dozen others in a shooting spree Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. He said he arrived at the school via Uber, fired more than 100 shots, dropped his gun and ammunition at the scene and escaped by blending in with a crowd of fleeing students. Then he got a drink at a Subway in Walmart and walked to McDonald’s before being arrested. No motive for the shootings has been disclosed. Meanwhile, the names of the victims are released and thousands mourn the victims in a candlelight vigil. Sun-Sentinel. Miami HeraldPalm Beach Post. Associated Press.

Other developments: Florida legislative leaders acknowledge they’ve failed in providing mental health care in schools, and vow to commit more money to it. But a bill that would limit assault weapons hasn’t even been scheduled for a hearing. Tampa Bay Times. News Service of FloridaTCPalm. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Palm Beach PostPolitico Florida. Nikolas Cruz legally purchased the AR-15 rifle he used in the shootings. Miami Herald. How did Cruz get around school security? Sun-Sentinel. A YouTube user claims he alerted the FBI last fall about online threats by Cruz to become a “a professional school shooter.” CNN. President Trump’s proposed budget would cut millions of dollars to help schools prevent crime and recover from tragedies. Politico.

Districts react: School districts around the state beef up security and discuss ways to tighten it further. Naples Daily News. Tampa Bay TimesGradebook. Florida Today. TCPalm. Ocala Star-Banner. Fort Myers News-Press. Lakeland Ledger. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Gainesville Sun. Tallahassee Democrat. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Northwest Florida Daily News. Daily Commercial. Charlotte Sun. WUSF. WEAR.

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Florida schools roundup: Deadly school shooting, funding for schools and more

School shooting: A 19-year-old man who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland returned Wednesday to shoot and kill 17 people and wound 16 more in the worst school massacre in Florida’s history, according to Broward County deputies. The suspect, Nikolas Cruz, was arrested at a house near the school by deputies shortly after escaping by hiding among students running from the school. Sun-SentinelMiami Herald. Palm Beach Post. Florida TodayOrlando Sentinel. Associated Press. Politico Florida. The 74. The shooting suspect had been flagged as a potential threat, and family members say he seemed troubled and depressed in recent years. Sun-SentinelMiami Herald. Associated Press. CNN. Students tell their stories of horror, and videos capture the scene. Sun-Sentinel. Stoneman football coach Aaron Feis is called a hero for stepping between the gunman and students. Miami Herald. The rifle used in the shooting, the AR-15, is “designed to kill multiple enemy combatants at once,” says a weapons expert. Miami Herald. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High will be closed today and tomorrow. Sun-Sentinel. There have already been at least six school shootings that have killed or injured U.S. students in 2018, and at least 17 other incidents involving a gun fired at or near U.S. schools. USA Today. Business Insider. Time. MSN. The 74. Fox News. CNBC. Political leaders express their anguish over the shootings but wonder if anything will change. Sun-Sentinel. How vulnerable are kids at school? USA Today.

School choice funding: A bill that would create a new funding source for private school choice scholarships is approved by the House Ways and Means Committee. The proposal would let businesses donate to a state to a scholarship funding organization and receive a full credit for sales taxes they collect. It’s projected that the measure could collect as much as $150 million a year. That money would help fund state-approved scholarship organizations such as Step Up For Students, which publishes this blog and helps administer the Gardiner Scholarships for children with special needs and tax credit scholarships for low-income students. Both have waiting lists. The bill also creates tax holidays for certain back-to-school items and hurricane supplies. The total tax relief amount is almost $350 million. redefinED. Associated Press. Orlando Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times. News Service of FloridaPolitico Florida.

School funding formula: The House Education PreK-12 Appropriations Committee approves a bill that calls for a study of the way state funding is distributed to school districts. Smaller and more rural districts around the state have complained for years that price-level index portion of the funding formula unfairly favors urban districts. The House has allocated $100,000 for the study. The Senate also passes its version of the school funding bill, which includes more money for school mental health services. News Service of FloridaGradebook. Politico Florida.

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Florida schools roundup: Tax breaks, medical marijuana rules and more

House tax package: The Florida House is expected to introduce a $332.7 million tax relief package today. About 46 percent of the total – $154 million – would come in the form of credits for companies that contribute to the tax credit and Gardiner scholarship programs. Another $74.5 million would be for a 10-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school purchases of clothes, school supplies and technology, and three separate seven-day periods for buying hurricane supplies. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the tax credit and Gardiner programs. News Service of Florida.

Medical marijuana: The Broward County School District is working on a policy to deal with students who are approved to use medical marijuana. Students would not be allowed to carry the drug or store it at school, but parents or a caregiver could come to campus to administer it as long as they have medical clearance. School staff would not be permitted to handle the drug. Palm Beach County allows the drug to be administered by nurses, who are supplied by the county health department, while Miami-Dade prohibits medical marijuana on campus, citing the conflicts in state and federal laws. Sun-Sentinel.

Turnaround schools: Polk County school officials choose a Kentucky company to begin operating six persistently struggling schools this fall if they don’t get a school grade of C or above from the state this year. Educational Directions would charge the district at least $387,500 per school for the first year, then $225,000 to $250,000 per school for each additional year. The school board will vote on the recommendation Feb. 27. Bartow Middle, Garner Elementary, Griffin Elementary, Kathleen Middle, Lake Alfred Polytech Academy and Lake Marion Creek Middle have each received grades of D or F for the past three years, prompting the state to require the district to close them, turn them into charter schools or hire an outside company to operate them. Lakeland Ledger.

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