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Florida education news: Superintendents, mascots, HB 7069 lawsuit and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Hillsborough County School Board members Karen Perez and Stacy Hahn listen as Sheridan Murphy criticizes their vote a week ago to stall the removal of Native American mascots. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
Published Jun. 12

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: Who might be in the running to become the next superintendent of Hillsborough County schools? Some insiders say they’re interested, while others suggest they’re not. And names keep popping up everywhere. • Darryl Taylor is appointed permanent superintendent of Calhoun County schools, Florida Politics reports.

‘I AM NOT A MASCOT’: Protesters fill the Hillsborough County School Board meeting to criticize the board’s recent move to stall the removal of Native American mascots from elementary and middle schools. Board members walk back their remarks and say the change will go on.

HB 7069: Lawyers continue to battle over the controversial 2017 law and whether the state had the authority to set up a charter school system almost completely outside school districts. More from News Service of Florida.

SUE YOU: A Pinellas County family sues the school district and sheriff’s office over the treatment of its son with autism.

TEACHER TURNOVER: Pasco County’s Hudson Elementary sees many teachers head for the doors as the school loses its principal and faces the possibility of a disruptive state-mandated turnaround plan.

HIGH SCHOOL RANKINGS: For the first time, US News & World Report rates every high school in the Tampa Bay area. Plant High in Tampa was No. 1. Where did your favorite school come in?

CONSTRUCTION PLANS: The Duval County school district revises its capital projects needs list after receiving new views from the public, the Florida Times-Union reports. The Jacksonville City Council, meanwhile, continues to deliberate over whether to place the district’s sales tax referendum request on a special election ballot, the Times-Union reports. More from Florida Politics.

HURRICANE RECOVERY: The Alachua County school district launches a special summer program to help students still displaced by hurricanes, to get them up to speed with their lessons, the Gainesville Sun reports. • Bay County school district leaders meet with other hurricane survivors to discuss best ways to bounce back, the Panama City News Herald reports.

GRADUATION SPEECHES: The Orange County school district plans to change its rules governing student speeches at graduation ceremonies after one valedictorian was barred from speaking at her event, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

GETTING THERE: Orange County deputies crack down on drivers who speed past stopped school buses, Fox 35 Orlando reports. • Some Hillsborough County residents call for improvements to the state’s laws regarding hazardous walking conditions to school, WFTS reports.

BE PREPARED: The Lake County school district decides to conduct monthly active shooter drills, nearly doubling the amount from the previous year, the Daily Commercial reports.

SECURITY: The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office criticizes the school district’s selection of its next security chief, the Citrus County Chronicle reports. The district’s choice resigned from the department in lieu of being fired in 2017.

TEACHER PAY: The St. Lucie County School Board ratifies a new teacher contract with added pay from a recently approved property tax increase, TC Palm reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A Lake County charter school gets a year extension to resolve its financial troubles and retain its contract, the Daily Commercial reports. • A new Palm Beach County charter school is working to take the place of a failed one, the Palm Beach Post reports.

A PIECE OF HISTORY: Two Florida schools are placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

CAMPAIGN VIOLATION: Sarasota County School Board member Shirley Brown is fined $200 for using partisan campaign appeals during her nonpartisan race for office, the Herald-Tribune reports.

BAD ACTS: The Broward County school district fires one teacher for allegedly choking a student and another on accusations of making racially insensitive comments, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • The Broward County School Board seeks a harsher penalty than a one-day suspension for a teacher who gave unwanted hugs to students, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. A view of the student center at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where opposition is mounting over a plan to consolidate USF's three campuses. Some state lawmakers are opposed to parts of it that would concentrate authority over academic decisions in Tampa. CHRIS URSO   |   TIMES  |
    They say the proposal by USF president Steve Currall conflicts with a new Florida law by giving too much authority to the Tampa campus.
  2. Wreckage left behind by Hurricane Michael. News Service of Florida
    Entire school systems are still recovering from long-standing damage and dealing with the disruptive aftermath of the storm.
  3. The National Merit Scholarship program has announced the names of semifinalists for scholarships to be offered in the spring.
    These students are among the top 1 percent of high school seniors in the nation.
  4. Florida schools increasingly are monitoring students' social media for potential threats.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Sally Harris said she has more to accomplish and is mounting a return campaign for the Hillsborough County School Board. [Times | 2014]
    Three people have filed so far for the seat now held by Lynn Gray.
  6. The DeLucio family of Trinity toured the Mitchell High School campus and showed the visit on their YouTube channel, which has more than 1 million subscribers. Many parents, students and school officials were not amused. YouTube
    If approved, a new policy would take effect in early October.
  7. The Hillsborough County School Board holds a workshop in June 2019. Tampa Bay Times
    The chairwoman looks for ways to keep comments private, while the board asks for more input on key issues like its superintendent search.
  8. Hillsborough County school officer Obed Gerenastands in front of Cahoon Elementary School in Tampa in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shootings.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  9. Hernando County Sheriff's deputy Cory Zarcone talks to students during breakfast time in the cafeteria of Brooksville Elementary School in 2018. [Times (2018)]
    Five were arrested last week in a gun-theft incident on school grounds. Schools were locked down twice the week before. School board members want “zero tolerance.”
  10. Saint Leo University hosted a Bahamian comfort food dinner Tuesday night. Nearly 150 of the more than 2,200 students on the Pasco County campus are from the Bahamas. MALIEK WATKINS, THE LIONS’ PRIDE MEDIA GROUP  |  Saint Leo University
    Shaken by the devastation and toll of Hurricane Dorian, the Pasco County university’s students shared traditional dishes from home.