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Florida education news: School choice, campus security, teacher protests and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Hillsborough High School students staged a walk out in support of teacher pay raises Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. About 200 students walked out for nearly 15 minutes to protest the Hillsborough school district's decision to deny scheduled pay raises for teachers this year. MONICA HERNDON | Times
Published Mar. 5

SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMS: The Florida Department of Education warns school districts not to try to verify student claims of bullying before offering them a scholarship application to a different school. "Any district that is adding this requirement is in violation of statute and administrative rule and will be dealt with according to law,” chancellor Jacob Oliva told superintendents.

EDUCATION SAVINGS ACCOUNTS: If Florida lawmakers move in the direction of vouchers and portable savings accounts, the founder of the state’s largest scholarship funding organization wants them to remain focused on low-income students. A Koch Network group, meanwhile, launches an ad campaign aimed at convincing the Legislature to go universal with the idea.

SCHOOL SECURITY: The Pasco County school district asks for community ideas on how to make campuses safer. • The Broward County school district explores ways to improve its system of resource officers and guards, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Wakulla County leaders discuss their efforts to improve school security, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

TEACHER RALLIES: Monroe County teachers were part of a statewide action of teachers demanding better funding for public education, the Miami Herald reports. Teachers across Florida held protests and rallies, raising concerns that without enough money their profession will decline, the Orlando Sentinel reports. It’s part of a national teacher union campaign, the Florida Phoenix reports. More from WKMG, WINK, Daytona Beach News-Journal.

ON THE HOT SEAT: The battle over Broward superintendent Robert Runcie’s future heads to the School Board, where members are to consider firing him beginning at 11:15 a.m., the Sun-Sentinel reports. More from the Miami Herald.

THAT COLIN KAEPERNICK POSTER: Leaders from the Charlotte County school district and local NAACP reveal few details about their discussions about a teacher being forced to remove his Black History Month classroom display, the Charlotte Sun reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: Lake County School Board members hesitate to renew the contract of a low-performing charter school, the Daily Commercial reports. • A Palm Beach County charter school sues the school district for access to revenue from a new local property tax, the Palm Beach Post reports. • A Sarasota County charter school requests permission to expand its enrollment, the Herald-Tribune reports.

MAGNET WOES: Alachua County parents grow frustrated over problems with the school district’s magnet school application and approval system, the Gainesville Sun reports.

TODAY: The Florida Legislature formally begins its 2019 session. The House and Senate convene jointly at 11 a.m., in between committee meetings.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. [SKIP O'ROURKE   | Times]
    It’s unclear if there will be any proposed changes to this method for measuring teachers’ impact on their students’ performance, despite complaints.
  2. A deputy's Sig Sauer P320, similar to this Glock 19, discharged in the cafeteria of a Wesley Chapel school April 30. The bullet lodged in the wall behind him. The deputy has been fired.
    Cpl. Jonathan Cross was lifting his pistol up and down out of its holster when it went off, Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
  3. Shirley Joseph is named superintendent of Madison County public schools. Madison County school district
    The previous superintendent resigned amid conflicts with the School Board.
  4. In this image from a Pinellas County school district video, former School Board member Lee Benjamin motions to someone he knows while sitting with family members during at 2013 ceremony to name the Northeast High School gymnasium in his honor. Mr. Benjamin was the school's first basketball coach in 1954 and later became Northeast's principal in a long career with Pinellas schools that included 14 years on the School Board. He died Wednesday at age 92. Pinellas County Schools
    A teacher, coach and principal at Northeast High, he rose to district administrator and served on the School Board. Mr. Benjamin died Wednesday at age 92.
  5. Hillsborough County School Board member Melissa Snively Times staff
    Board member Melissa Snively wanted to honor a community pioneer.
  6. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri chairs the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which is preparing its second round of recommendations for lawmakers.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. Toby Johnson is the new principal of Martinez Middle School. MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff
    The School Board also suspended former Martinez principal Brent McBrien.
  8. A Hernando County Sheriff's deputy talks to students in the cafeteria of Brooksville Elementary School in 2018. Earlier this month, the school district put forward a proposal to move away from a contract with the Sheriff and establish its own police force. On Tuesday, it announced it would drop that idea.
    Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis spoke out this week against the proposal.
  9. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The sides have not set a time to resume discussions on teacher pay.
  10. Census forms have to be printed soon. [AP photo by Michelle R. Smith]
    Citizenship controversy could be a psychological barrier.