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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.
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, 2019
Updated Apr. 16, 2019

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. The Pinellas County school system is offering driver education camps to hundreds of students like this one over the summer. The program will be held over two sessions at nine high school campuses across the county.
  2. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020.
  3. Incoming Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis (center), School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) and the other board members pose as Davis signs his contract with the district on Tuesday night. The board unanimously approved the contract beforehand.
  4. Jarvis Delon West was arrested on child neglect charges after he didn't report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police.
  5. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  6. Prekindergarten students at James B. Sanderlin IB World School in St. Petersburg, show the peace sign during an assembly in 2012. New state data show children in prekindergarten are better prepared for kindergarten than those who don't attend.
  7. Leon County fifth-grader Ingrid Hanley asks the Senate Education Committee not to adopt legislation that would get tougher on D-rated schools, during a Feb. 17, 2020, session.
  8. Nadia King, 6, is smiles for a photo. The special-needs student was taken from school Feb. 4 and placed in a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act, and now her mother and a team of attorneys are asking why.
  9. The Voluntary Prekindergarten room is one feature of the new Bardmoor Branch of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. The location also includes a child-care center and Preschool Academy.
  10. FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus. School districts continue to improve their security plans in the aftermath. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)
  11. 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.
  12. University of Florida students walk through Turlington Plaza in between classes on Thursday afternoon, February 13, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla.