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Jeffrey S. Solochek, Times Staff Writer

Jeffrey S. Solochek

Jeffrey S. Solochek writes about schools and education for the Tampa Bay Times. Solochek has covered the school districts in Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties since joining the Times in 2000. He also oversees The Gradebook education blog.

Phone: (813) 909-4614


Blog: The Gradebook

Twitter: @JeffSolochek

  1. Florida lawmakers again seek to scale back restraint and seclusion of students with disabilities


    Floridians long have criticized schools' use of restraint and seclusion in handling out-of-control students with disabilities. Rule changes have been discussed since 2009, to limited effect despite clear intentions.

    State Sen. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican, is ready to try again. Flores has filed SB 452 this week with very direct goals: It would ban all student seclusion, and limit restraint to times of imminent risk of serious injury or death....

  2. Pasco's 'quarterly check' format could change, superintendent says


    The launch of Pasco County's new "quarterly check" testing system has come under fire just days after its official launch. Some parents have contacted district officials to criticize the model, complaining that their children are being tested on materials they haven't learned, several days before the first quarter ends....

  3. Florida education news: Charter schools, testing, high school sports and more


    CHARTER SCHOOLS: Charter Schools USA seeks to open four new schools in Hillsborough County. * The Palm Beach School Board rejects three charter applications, the Sun-Sentinel reports....

  4. As expected, district analysis shows test scores tied heavily to socioeconomics


    Pasco County School District officials did their best last week to downplay preliminary Florida Standards Assessment results, citing several ways they felt the data fell short.

    Among their concerns, the information did not have any point of comparison, because the tests and the standards had changed from a year earlier. Also, they noted that the numbers only compared students to one another, with no connection to academic expectations....

  5. Five activist organizations call on Gov. Rick Scott for accountability pause


    Two key Florida civil rights organizations, along with three parent groups, have joined the growing crowd calling for reconsideration of the way the state's spring test results are used.

    The NAACP and League of United Latin American Citizens Florida branches, Miami-Dade PTA, Fund Education Now and Parents Across America-Florida sent a letter Wednesday to Gov. Rick Scott, asking for an executive order suspending the application of 2015 Florida Standards Assessment scores for school grades, teacher evaluations and other consequences. The test administration was plagued with technology problems, and a subsequent validity study raised as many questions as it answered....

  6. Pasco's Sunray Elementary School to get a new principal


    Pasco County's principal musical chairs continues, with the appointment of Sunray Elementary principal Lee Anne Yerkey to lead Schrader Elementary School.

    The Schrader post became available in late September, when principal Tammy Berryhill was named an area superintendent. The Sunray job was advertised on Monday....

  7. Pasco school district offers bonuses for help finding bus drivers


    The Pasco County school district really wants to hire more bus drivers.

    How badly?

    The district has offered employees $100 bonuses for transportation employees who refer a candidate, payable after that new bus driver completes all needed training and successfully works four weeks.

    The situation is dire, assistant superintendent Ray Bonti said. Currently, the district has about 60 vacancies in a 400-driver department....

  8. Has Florida's testing pendulum swung too far?


    The Florida Department of Education is fighting mightily to keep school grading on track. But the state's superintendents are gaining momentum as they step forward with their "enough is enough" message....

  9. Florida education news: Suspensions, toy guns, late buses and more


    DISCIPLINE: Pasco school district officials take steps to undo disproportional suspensions of black students.

    TIME TO GO: Tarpon Spring High's principal requests a transfer after his handling of a death threat comes under fire....

  10. Pasco will correct heavier discipline for black students


    LAND O'LAKES — Black students are twice as likely as their classmates to be suspended from Pasco County schools, and officials said Tuesday the district is using a new data system to pinpoint the problem and aggressively attack it.

    The rate is worse for black students with disabilities, who were suspended or expelled at nearly 3.5 times the rate of other students in special programs, according to the most recent available data....

    Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning says the district will address the disciplinary problems, which are “nothing we can run from.” [Times files (2012)]
  11. Pasco's magnet school planning delayed, for now


    Plans to offer more magnet school options to Pasco County students face a time crunch, because of technical problems.

    District officials intended to survey parents about theme preferences in recent weeks, and make recommendations for the School Board's consideration by October....

  12. How much testing is too much for Pasco County schools?


    New quarterly tests might be too much for Pasco County teachers and students to deal with, United School Employees of Pasco president Kenny Blankenship told the School Board on Tuesday.

    The tests -- scheduled to begin this week in high schools and Oct. 12-23 on other campuses -- take critical decision making away from classroom teachers, who know better than district administrators when students need assessing and what type is best, Blankenship said. ...

  13. Making the case: Superintendents prepare to fill next Florida Board of Education meeting


    The Florida Board of Education regularly gives a representative from the state's superintendents association time to speak at each board meeting.

    Next time, the board might need to have extra seats available.

    The association has urged as many members as possible to attend the next BOE meeting, Oct. 28 in Kissimmee....

  14. Florida education news: Barbershops, school boards, impact fees and more


    EXTRA HELP: Hillsborough school leaders ask area barbers to work with their young customers in the district's effort to curb school discipline problems....

  15. Keep your $250, some Pasco teachers say


    Every year, Florida teachers get about $250 from the state to offset out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies

    This year, some Pasco County teachers are saying they don't want the money. It's their response to a district memo requiring them to scan and submit all receipts associated with their purchases....