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Florida education news: Private school scholarships, transgender rights, Parkland aftermath and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Students hug hursday, Feb. 14, 2019, outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after the ceremony at 2:21 p.m. to mark the mass shooting at the school that killed 17 students and teachers on Valentine's Day last year. [Al Diaz, Miami Herald]
Students hug hursday, Feb. 14, 2019, outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after the ceremony at 2:21 p.m. to mark the mass shooting at the school that killed 17 students and teachers on Valentine's Day last year. [Al Diaz, Miami Herald]
Published Feb. 27, 2019

SCHOLARSHIPS: Pasco County school district officials propose restrictions on offering state private-school scholarships to students who claim they’ve been bullied. The district wants to verify the claims first, despite that not being a requirement in law. One state senator, meanwhile, aims to expand the program further while easing access to it, with a bill filed Tuesday. (See SB 1410)

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS: Conservative groups seeking to limit transgender students’ rights in Pasco County schools will not find satisfaction in the district’s latest list of proposed policy revisions. The administration indicates it has no plan to change its rules. Officials have said they await a court ruling from a St. Johns County case that could have bearing on their actions. That case is headed to appeal in federal court, Metro Weekly reports.

PARKLAND AFTERMATH: Public Safety Commission chairman Sheriff Bob Gualtieri visits the Broward County School Board to explain his panel’s findings and make recommendations for improvement, the Miami Herald reports. Among its actions, the board will consider dismissing superintendent Robert Runcie, whose leadership during and after the Parkland shooting incident has come under fire, the Sun-Sentinel reports. More from WLRN. Security remains a concern at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, with four students arrested after a fight there this week, WPLG reports.

BOOK BANNING: A conservative group asks the Marion County school district to remove 14 titles from its shelves, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. District officials have begun reviewing the novels, and already have taken some out of middle schools.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: Duval County superintendent Diana Greene recommends denial of a charter school application, saying its proposal would segregate students, the Florida Times-Union reports. • A court halts construction plans for a Lake County charter school, supporting a complaint that the project would generate too much traffic, WKMG reports. • Polk County School Board members discuss possibilities to have their district schools compete with the charter school system in Lake Wales, the Ledger reports.

FINANCIAL CONTROLS: Lee County school district officials are brought before lawmakers to ensure findings in state audits are being followed, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

SCHOOL DAYS: The Brevard County School Board shortens its 2019-20 winter break amid community concerns that plans to start the vacation on a Tuesday and have students return on a Friday would lead to too many absences, Florida Today reports. • The St. Johns County school district proposes changing the start times for all of its schools, the St. Augustine Record reports.

INFIGHTING: Lee County School Board members have taken to personal insults and criticism of one another, prompting them to plan a training session, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

NAME GAME: After 18 months of back and forth, the Manatee County School Board picks a name for its new high school in Parrish, the Bradenton Herald reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis (wearing a pink tie), center, takes photos with the  Hillsborough County Public Schools board members after being voted unaminous as the new incoming superintendent in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
  2. University of Florida students walk through Turlington Plaza in between classes on Thursday afternoon, February 13, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla.
  3. Chikara Parks, right, along with her children in front of their home in St. Petersburg. In the back is Kamijah Laswon, 14. In front of Kamijah is her sister Tanijah Clark, 12. Their brothers are 7-year-old Tai'jon Carter, left, and Dai'quan Carbart, 9. The four children used to attend Pinellas public schools. Now they are in private schools, using Florida's tax credit scholarship program. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Florida Board of Education member Michael Olenick speaks during a July 17, 2019, board meeting in Polk County. [The Florida Channel]
  5. A new house under construction in Waterset on Big Bend Road in Hillsborough County's Apollo Beach area. Developed by Newland Communities, which also developed Fishhawk Ranch  in Hillsborough, Waterset has had more housing starts in the past year than any other new-home community in the Tampa Bay area. [SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times]
  6. Janiyah, left, and Stephanie Davis of Philadelphia, stand as they are recognized by President Donald Trump during his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
  7. School buses line the parking lot of the Hernando County Schools Transportation Center earlier this month. Detailed bus route information is expected to be available July 31, and can be found on the district website, (select "District," then "Transportation". [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  8. Florida lawmakers are considering changes to the state grant that helps students who attend private colleges and universities such as Eckerd College, whose 2005 commencement is shown here.
  9. Students from Lakewood Elementary School dismiss for the day in St. Petersburg, Monday, February 10, 2020.
  10. Orlando high school student Yomar Fontanez is shown rapping in a music video he released Wednesday to commemorate the victims of the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.
  11. Chancellor Jacob Oliva explains recommended new academic standards in language arts and math to the Florida Board of Education at a Feb. 12, 2020, meeting in Tallahassee. The board unanimously adopted the proposal.
  12. Pasco County residents have recommended naming the school district's next high school after student Sean Bartell, Sheriff's deputy Capt. Bo Harrison and principal Adam Kennedy, each of whom has passed away. The district received dozens of proposals.