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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. 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.