Lawsuit dismissed: Florida has not failed to fulfill its constitutional mandate to provide a quality education for all public school students, a circuit court judge has ruled. Judge George Reynolds III dismissed the suit brought by Citizens for Strong Schools and others against the State Department of Education and legislative leaders. The plaintiffs charged that the state’s racial achievement gap, emphasis on testing and lack of adequate funding kept the state from satisfying the terms of a 1998 constitutional amendment. Reynolds disagreed. “The weight of the evidence shows that the state has made education a top priority both in terms of implementation of research-based education policies and reforms, as well as education funding,” he wrote. Gradebook. Palm Beach Post. Orlando Sentinel. Gainesville Sun. WFSU. Politico Florida. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. redefinED.
Bush is back: Former presidential candidate Jeb Bush is elected chairman and president of the board of directors of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. He replaces Condoleezza Rice. Bush formed the foundation in 2007 after two terms as Florida governor. He suspended his presidential campaign three months ago. The Hill. Miami Herald. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Politics. Sunshine State News.
Discrimination query: Federal grants are being withheld as the Polk County School District’s harassment and discrimination policies are under review by the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice. School Board attorney Wes Bridges says the move is most likely tied to the Obama administration directive saying transgender students should be allowed to use the restroom of their gender identity. Lakeland Ledger.
Bathroom rights: The Obama administration directive on allowing transgender students to use the bathroom conforming to their gender identity could lead to a boom in school bathroom construction. In an email to his colleagues, Sumter County School Superintendent Richard Shirley wrote: “Students will be expected to use group restroom facilities based on their birth gender until necessary remodeling takes place to insure the safety, privacy and comfort of all students in single unisex restroom facilities.” Gradebook.
District sex survey: Citing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases rates, the Hillsborough County School Board agrees to survey students about their sexual behavior. Parents can have their children opt out. Tampa Bay Times.