Thursday, February 22, 2018
Education

Pinellas School Board considers transferring internal police unit

Pinellas County Schools' internal police force could become a thing of the past under a cost-savings proposal being presented today to the School Board.

The 26-person unit would move to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. The district would pay $1.9 million over three years for police service. It currently pays about that much each year for salaries, benefits and other operating expenses.

School district police officers work in Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor and Carwise middle schools and in special education centers and alternative schools. Other schools are covered through contracts with outside law enforcement agencies at a cost of about $1.6 million a year.

District officials kept the proposal a secret from the public until pressed for the information Wednesday. It was listed vaguely under another item on the agenda for today's board work session. A copy of a draft contract, which spells out the proposal, wasn't posted to the district's website, as typically required by state law, until a reporter complained.

Deputy superintendent William Corbett said Wednesday that the item was being brought by the Sheriff's Office and was held back from public view because it was in draft form. He said district officials wanted a chance to explain it to School Board members, who might not want to pursue the proposal.

"This could be over in two minutes tomorrow," he said.

Board members received the proposal Wednesday only because a reporter asked for it, Corbett said. Before that, at least two board members said they didn't think a formal proposal existed.

The draft contract has an effective date of Monday, but Corbett said it wouldn't be possible to approve it by then. Board members don't vote during work sessions, and it's too late to add the item to a special meeting scheduled later today.

Board member Linda Lerner said she was distressed by how the proposal was handled and had several questions about it, including whether the district had negotiated any of the terms in the draft.

"This is an item that needs to be discussed in great detail by the board," she said.

Board member Peggy O'Shea said she didn't think the item was intentionally hidden. It might have been a result of the coordination between the agencies, she said. "It's a starting-off point if we do anything with it."

Staff Writer Lisa Gartner contributed to this story. Cara Fitzpatrick can be reached at (727) 893-8846 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @Fitz_ly.

Comments
After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor and the police chief came to Northeast High on Thursday to warn students about the dangers of circulating rumors of school safety threats on social media.While they were there, one of those unfounded rumors popped up on Fac...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

NEW YORK — On Tuesday, a dining hall at New York University advertised a special meal in honor of Black History Month. On the menu? Barbecue ribs, cornbread, collard greens, and two beverages with racist connotations: Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored...
Published: 02/22/18
Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

With high school students from Parkland in the Capitol this week advocating for gun control, the bill that would have allowed superintendents and principals to designate trained employees who can carry concealed weapons at school didn’t get heard as ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

When students return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High for the first time next Tuesday, they will be greeted by additional counselors and law enforcement."There will be a plethora of counselors and services at the school," Broward Schools Superintende...
Published: 02/21/18
School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz appears to have been in line for a sizable inheritance. He’ll never get to spend it — except perhaps on defense attorneys.The amount could be enough to compel a judge to order him to hire a private lawyer, rather ...
Published: 02/21/18
Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

DADE CITY — A Pasco High School student was taken into custody Tuesday amid accusations of threatening violence against the school. The campus was not at risk, school district officials said. But they made clear they take each threat seriously, and t...
Published: 02/21/18
Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

LARGO — An Illinois teacher used confrontation. A campus safety monitor in Seattle attacked with pepper spray and physical force. An assistant football coach in Indiana shouted as he chased him into the woods.All were civilians who took down an activ...
Published: 02/20/18
Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

LARGO — Pinellas County School Board members are not happy about the prospect of having to hand over academic control at three struggling schools to a private company, and paying the firm up to $2 million on top of it. But that’s the course they must...
Published: 02/20/18
Lawsuit accuses FSU fraternity, national chapter of negligence in pledge’s death

Lawsuit accuses FSU fraternity, national chapter of negligence in pledge’s death

The parents of Andrew Coffey, the Florida State University student who died from alcohol poisoning after an apparent hazing episode last year, have sued the national Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and nine of its members for their son’s death.Coffey, who wa...
Published: 02/20/18
Upset by grade, Robinson High student threatens to shoot up campus, police say

Upset by grade, Robinson High student threatens to shoot up campus, police say

Schools nationwide are on heightened alert in the wake of last week’s fatal shootings in Broward County, and in the Tampa area, that means official warnings about social media posts and more calls for police action.Two Tampa boys, one 15 and one 16, ...
Published: 02/20/18