1. Gradebook

Florida education news: Vouchers, free speech, charter schools and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
CHRIS URSO | Times Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, center, waves to the crowd after being introduced at Tampa Bay Academy Monday, April 15, 2019 in Tampa. DeSantis made a stop at Tampa Bay Christian Academy to urge lawmakers to pass his voucher plan.
Published Apr. 16
Updated Apr. 16

VOUCHERS: Gov. Ron DeSantis visits a Tampa private Christian school to reiterate his support for legislation to expand school vouchers in Florida. “Parents should be in the driver’s seat” when it comes to their children’s education, he told the audience.

FREE SPEECH: Gov. DeSantis calls upon state universities to adopt policies to allow for all viewpoints to be discussed freely on campus, even ones people might “loathe.”

CHARTER SCHOOLS: Plato Academies, one of the Tampa Bay area’s largest charter school groups, severs ties with its longtime management company. • The Clermont City Council appeals a court decision that overturned a permit it issued for a charter school, the Daily Commercial reports.

LABOR NEWS: Pasco County teachers reach a tentative contract deal with the district after a weekend mediation session. • Brevard County teachers plan a “walk-in” to protest state education policies, Florida Today reports.

AUDITS: Hernando County school district officials say they are resolving issues discovered in a financial audit, such as improperly using general funds for capital projects. • The Manatee County school district gets a negative audit relating to its troubled software implementation, among other issues, the Bradenton Herald reports.

TAXES: The Florida House will consider legislation to require school districts to share local tax referendum revenue with charter schools, including measures that voters have already approved, Florida Politics reports.

ARMED EMPLOYEES: The Okaloosa and Walton county school districts consider participating in the state school guardian program, the Destin Log reports. • The Fort Myers City Council will ask the Lee County school district to pay more for resource officers, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

SCHOOL NURSES: Duval County schools are struggling to place a nurse on every campus, WJAX reports.

SCHOOL ZONES: About 400 Palm Beach County elementary students could be reassigned to different schools to ease crowding, the Palm Beach Post reports.

TODAY: House Appropriations, 10 a.m. (On the agenda: HB 7123 taxation) • House Education, 1:30 p.m. (On the agenda: HB 7055 career education) • Health and Human Services, 2 p.m. (On the agenda: HB 1171 parental rights)

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  2. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. Times staff
    Go to the school district website before 8 a.m. Monday to state your case.
  3. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  4. The Pasco County school district would rezone the Seven Oaks subdivision from the Wiregrass Ranch High feeder pattern to the Cypress Creek High feeder pattern, beginning in the 2020-21 school year. Pasco County school district
    The Seven Oaks subdivision is the primary target for rezoning.
  5. Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  7. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  8. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  9. This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. 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 proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.