Security task force: Almost four months after 17 people were shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, a Broward County school safety task force recommends 100 ways to improve security for schools. Among them: installing portable metal detectors at Stoneman Douglas this fall and considering them for all schools, putting coverings over windows in doors, keeping classroom doors locked at all times, increasing the height of all outdoor fences, requiring ID badges for all students and staff, and reviewing the Promise program, which was created in 2013 as a way to offer alternatives to arresting students. The committee members also joined local officials in calling on the Legislature to boost funding for school safety. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. WSVN. Politico Florida. WLRN.
A cop reflects: Scot Peterson, a Stoneman Douglas resource officer who did not enter the building where confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz was killing 17 people on Feb. 14, is haunted by that day, at times justifying his decisions (“How can they keep saying I did nothing?”) and at times questioning them (“Why didn’t I know to go in?”). He has considered changing his name or moving out of state, but knows there’s no escaping the infamy. “It’s haunting,” Peterson says. “I’ve cut that day up a thousand ways with a million different what-if scenarios, but the bottom line is I was there to protect, and I lost 17.” Still, he believes there is little or nothing more he could have done. Washington Post. Parents of students killed at Stoneman Douglas express outrage at Peterson’s comments. “I’m tired of him trying to paint himself as the victim,” says one, Fred Guttenberg, the father of 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg. “He is not a victim. He created victims. He keeps referring to them as his kids. They are not your kids, Scot Peterson! You let them die!” Miami Herald.
Third-grade reading results: Eighty-one percent of the state’s third-graders posted passing scores on the Florida Standards Assessments reading exam this year, according to the Florida Department of Education. Fifty-eight percent of students scored at Level 3 or high, meaning they met grade-level expectations, which is an increase from 54 percent last year. The 19 percent who scored at Level 1 – about 43,300 students – face retention if they can’t pass an alternate test or demonstrate proficiency through a portfolio of classroom work. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Sun Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Florida Times-Union. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Space Coast Daily. Brevard Times. Bradenton Herald. Associated Press. News Service of Florida.
New achievement plan: An agreement is reached on a 10-year plan to eliminate or greatly narrow the achievement gap between white and black students in Pinellas County. The Concerned Organization for the Quality Education of Black Students had been suing the Pinellas County School District, alleging that it was shortchanging black students throughout the educational process. The agreement, reached Friday, addresses the lingering issues on graduation, student achievement, advanced coursework, student discipline, identification for special education and gifted programs and minority hiring. District officials have committed to providing quarterly progress reports and responding in a more timely manner with reliable information. Both sides are calling the agreement a “turning point” for the district. Tampa Bay Times.
From high school to med school: Four graduates of Florida Atlantic University High School have been admitted directly into the FAU College of Medicine. The four students will begin training as doctors in 2018 and be eligible for residency at age 22 or 23. It’s believed to be the only program of its kind in the United States. FAU High is a school where students can earn high school and college credits at the same time. Sun Sentinel.
Budget problems: State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, says Florida schools are probably going to have to raise local property taxes to close a $426 million gap in funding. Latvala said the state is unlikely to close that financial gap with state funds for a second year in a row. Latvala’s position contradicts House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s. The Land O’Lakes Republican has vowed not to raise taxes for schools. Naples Daily News. News Service of Florida.
Charter suit dismissed: A lawsuit challenging the state’s rule that withholds money for construction and repairs from charter schools that got consecutive D grades from the state has been dismissed. The case was ruled moot when the state withdrew the rule last week. But just days after that rule was dropped, another was adopted that kept the restrictions but delayed implementation for a year. Charter school advocates say they will fight the revised rule. redefinED.
Fake address query: An investigation into address fraud at Calusa Elementary School in Boca Raton is concluding, and school officials say they have found at least 11 students whose families may have lied about where they live so the students could attend the school. Final checks are being made, but officials say there won’t be enough changes to avoid the proposed rezoning that would move 372 Calusa students to other schools next year. Sun-Sentinel.
Class sizes: Lake County is the only school district in central Florida to violate the class-sizes rules, and it missed the standard by just two students. Lake officials say they will appeal the Department of Education findings. Orlando Sentinel.