School security: The Broward County School Board and the county have been awarded $1.2 million in grants from the Department of Justice to improve threat assessments and reporting, crisis interventions, training and mental health services. The grants were part of the $70 million awarded to U.S. school districts, law enforcement agencies and cities under the federal STOP School Violence Act. Education Week. The Pinellas County School District is emphasizing the personal side of school security by encouraging students to care for one another and recognize when a classmate is troubled. The strategy was developed by the Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit founded by family members of students killed in the 2012 school shooting in Connecticut. Tampa Bay Times. The Osceola County School District is the latest to ban backpacks from after-school sporting events. School officials also say all bags would be subject to a search, and metal detecting wands could be used. Orlando Sentinel.
Legislative meetings: Florida Senate and House leaders say legislative committees will meet during the weeks of Dec. 11, Jan. 7, Jan. 22, Feb. 4, Feb. 11 and Feb. 19. No education bills have been filed yet, but it’s expected to again be a key and sometimes contentious issue. The 60-day legislative session begins March 5. Gradebook.
Scholarships review: Florida’s most disadvantaged students continue to make solid academic gains through use of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program, according to the latest annual evaluation of standardized test results released by the Florida Department of Education. Students on scholarships were “relatively more disadvantaged and lower-performing prior to entering the … program,” concluded the researchers from the Learning Systems Institute at Florida State University, yet once on the scholarship, the students “maintain his or her relative position in comparison with all students nationally in both reading and math.” Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the tax credit program, which is the largest in the country, as well as Gardiner, Hope and reading scholarship programs. redefinED.
Video ordered released: An appeals court rules that a surveillance video showing how law enforcement officers responded during the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 is a public record and should be released by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in the next 48 hours. News organizations argued for the release, while the Broward state attorney’s office argued against it because it’s part of an ongoing criminal investigation. “Parents have such a high stake in the ultimate decisions that they must have access to camera video footage here at issue and not blindly rely on school board experts to make decisions for them,” the 4th District Court of Appeal judges wrote. Associated Press. Sun-Sentinel.