Book-banning move: The Florida Citizens Alliance says it has identified about 100 textbooks and library books in state schools that are “pornographic,” preach religious “indoctrination,” push “unbalanced propaganda” relating to climate change and violate Florida laws. It wants them removed, and many fear that the group, which has influence with the governor and Legislature, could accomplish that through a pair of proposed bills that would restrict decisions on textbooks by local school officials. Critics of H.B. 855 and S.B. 1454 are organizing to fight back. Gradebook.
Spending on guardians: A review of state records indicates that sheriffs are receiving little oversight in how they spend the millions of dollars they’re getting through the state’s Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program to protect schools. In Brevard County, for instance, Sheriff Wayne Ivey has bought a $125,000 simulator to recreate active-shooter situations. Money has gone for training, salaries, weapons, ammunition, and for uniforms, background checks, insurance, warning signs, staples and more. Some counties with few students received more than much larger counties. Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters says, “Other than ensuring that each district’s budget appropriation meets the statutory requirements, the department is not involved in oversight.” Florida Today.
Schools of excellence: Eighty-eight more Florida schools may be added to the 630 already designated as “school of excellence” by the state Board of Education at its meeting Thursday. Those schools earn the label by being in the 80th percentile or higher in points for Florida’s school grading system, then maintain it by getting an A or B grade the next year. Designated schools’ principals are permitted greater autonomy, and the schools are exempt from daily minimum reading requirements and may calculate class size as a school average, among other benefits. Gradebook.
District’s toll violations: The Broward County School District has been billed almost $10,000 for 34 toll violations by school buses on the Florida Turnpike dating back to 2009. If the violations had been paid on time, the bill would have been less than $50. A school spokeswoman says at least some of the violations are in error, and it’s asking for clarification from SunPass. “I’m at a loss for words,” says school board member Robin Bartleman. “That is unbelievable that this slipped through the cracks.” Sun-Sentinel.
Amendment 8: A Leon County circuit judge says he is likely to decide today if proposed constitutional Amendment 8 will stay on the November ballot or be removed because it’s misleading. At a hearing Friday, a lawyer for the state said the ballot title and summary are “a fair statement” of the amendment and that “the voters have a right to see this. It’s clear. There’s nothing misleading about it.” A lawyer for the League of Women Voters, which is challenging the amendment, says the ballot title and summary are “misleading” and “deceptive” because they don’t explain that voters would be stripping local school boards of the authority to oversee charter schools. Florida Politics. WJCT. News Service of Florida. Gradebook. Florida Phoenix. Politico Florida.
School security: A shooting between adults sparks pandemonium during a practice football game at Palm Beach Central High in Wellington on Friday night and raises questions about how even the greatly increased safety measures at schools are able to protect students. Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw says two suspects targeted the victims because of unspecified past dealings. A 29-year-old is in critical but stable condition and a 39-year-old, the father of one of the players in the game, is in stable condition. The district has announced some changes for this week’s games. Palm Beach Post. Associated Press. WPLG. Miami Herald. Sun-Sentinel. The Pinellas County School District will show students videos this week that instruct them how to respond during a school shooting. All follow the run-hide-fight strategy. There are versions of the videos for students in kindergarten through 2nd grade, in grades 3-5 and for middle-schoolers. Active-assailant drills are expected to begin soon in schools. Gradebook.