Marlene Sokol - Education Reporter

Education Reporter

I’ve been a journalist since 1983 at newspapers all over Florida. After 15 years as an editor in the Tampa suburbs I was assigned to cover the Hillsborough public school system, the same one that gave my two children a great education. That last part didn't happen by itself. I was an active volunteer and believe schools should accommodate parents' busy schedules. I’m not a fan of the 3 p.m. parent conference or 10 a.m. PTA meeting! On weekends I play tennis and volunteer at a youth soccer program. Call or email me with your tips about the schools. I use Facebook for family and Twitter for self-promotion. But I prefer my conversations one-on-one.

  1. The directive, proposed by Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, above, and backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, would strengthen the 2022 Parental Rights in Education Act.
  2. Treia Martin, left, and her son, Siam Sinchat, a sixth grade student at Bay Point Middle, get ready to drive to school from their St. Petersburg home on Feb. 28.
  3. Hillsborough County School Board members entered a workshop Thursday to discuss a cost-saving plan to change attendance boundaries, but instead came away with ideas for potentially costly enhancements to the system.
  4. The text "This Book Is Gay" by Juno Dawson is the subject of a challenge in the Hillsborough County school system. After a parent complained about content in the book, two school district panels approved it. Now it is headed for final consideration before the school board.
  5. “While I believe in my heart that we have to do something … I have to recognize that the board feels that you may need more time to have conversations with each other,” Hillsborough County School Superintendent Addison Davis said at a meeting Tuesday.
  6. McLane Middle School in Brandon is one of six under-enrolled schools in Hillsborough County that would close and become repurposed under a proposal now before the Hillsborough County School Board.
  7. Gov. DeSantis speaks during the Moms for Liberty National Summit in July. He has asked the group's leaders to help identify school board members across Florida to oppose in 2024 elections.
  8. Hillsborough County School Board member Lynn Gray, right, talks during a meeting on Jan. 10, 2022, while board member Jessica Vaughn listens. On Tuesday, both board members raised doubts about moving forward with a major proposal to change school boundaries and consolidate school district buildings.
  9. Hillsborough County School Board members meet in a workshop to discuss new attendance boundaries for district schools on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023.
  10. People react when Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Addison Davis answers a question during a community meeting at Plant High on Jan. 11 to discuss school boundary changes. A revised proposal would keep the Plant student body intact.
  11. Wharton High teachers Michelle Both, left, and Ashanti Foresyth address a group of teaching interns in January.
  12. Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, center, is asking for documents and questioning the book selection process in Hillsborough County Public Schools.
  13. Nicolette Barone, a fifth-grade teacher at Oak Park Elementary, reacts, after she receives 2023 Teacher of the Year award during the Excellence in Education Awards ceremony at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in Tampa.
  14. Residents hold signs protesting a Hillsborough County proposal to change school boundaries during a meeting at Plant High on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Tampa.
  15. Wimauma Elementary School has a new principal. The Hillsborough County School Board appointed Karen Fletcher to the job on Jan. 24, 2023.
  16. Tampa Heights Elementary School, where three employees accused a Hillsborough County school district leader of state testing improprieties in 2021.
  17. The Hillsborough County School Board meets on Tuesday for a workshop where members discussed whether the district's racial equity policy violates a new state law.
  18. Audience members listen during a Nov. 17, 2022, public hearing on Hillsborough County's sex education curriculum. The curriculum was later upheld by a judge and approved Thursday by the school board.
  19. Audience members at Plant High hold signs protesting proposed school boundary changes in Hillsborough County while Superintendent Addison Davis answers a question on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Tampa.
  20. The entrance to Giunta Middle School in Riverview, which will get a new principal later this month.
  21. Residents discuss maps displaying proposed school boundary changes during a public forum held by the Hillsborough County school district at Middleton High in Tampa on Monday.
  22. A sign in front of a South Tampa home on Thursday, January 5, 2022, protests a proposal to change the attendance boundaries for Plant High and Coleman Middle School. Public forums on the Hillsborough County school district's plan to change boundaries are scheduled for Jan. 9-13.
  23. The school board's regular meeting at the Hillsborough County school district headquarters at 901 E Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa, pictured here, will coincide with early community meetings on a plan to change school boundaries.