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Florida education news: 'Holocaust’ principal is ousted, vouchers and discrimination, diversity and more

A roundup of stories from around the state
An analysis by the Florida Phoenix shows that Florida's predominantly white teaching force does not match the diversity of students in public schools. In this image, first-grade students at Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg walked to their new classroom in March after an upgrade at the school. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Published Jul. 9

PRINCIPAL OUSTED: After fierce reaction to a Palm Beach Post report last week, Palm Beach County school officials have removed the high school principal who refused to state during an email exchange with a parent that the Holocaust was a historical fact. The story received international attention and prompted an online petition pushing for the removal.

HAVING DOUBTS: Responding to questions from the Tampa Bay Times, a few Tampa Bay area companies that donate to the state’s tax credit scholarship program said they were concerned the money goes to some schools that discriminate against LGBTQ students, columnist William March writes.

DIVERSITY CHECK: Florida’s teaching force, which is nearly 70 percent white, does not match the diversity of the students in public schools, a Florida Phoenix analysis finds.

CHOICE WORDS: Florida has more school choices than any other state and is making progress in education without hurting traditional public schools, Patrick Gibbons, public affairs manager for Step Up for Students argues in a guest column in the Tallahassee Democrat.

ENROLLMENT TREND: An annual report from the Florida Department of Education shows a continuing increase in the number of private schools and private school students in the state, according to redefinED.

MORE ROBOTICS: A new inter-school robotics team in Groveland invites participation from teen students from local public schools, homeschooling and private schools, the second such program in Lake County, the Daily Commercial reports.

ALMOST THERE: Fundraising is almost complete for a statue of Mary McLeod Bethune, the educator and philanthropist who launched Bethune-Cookman University, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. The sculpture is to be placed in the U.S. Capitol.

KUDOS: A local initiative that aims to boost the percentage of children reading on grade level by the end of third grade -- the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading -- is recognized by a national group, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.


  1. Census forms have to be printed soon. [AP photo by Michelle R. Smith]
    Citizenship controversy could be a psychological barrier.
  2. 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.
  3. Randy Koenigsfeld, right, has retired as Schwettman Education Center principal after a decade in the job. Guidance counselor Mary Jones is with him in this photo from a recent open house. Pasco County school district
    Several staff members have already made a pitch for their assistant principal to take over the alternative school.
  4. Vials of medical marijuana oil. [Monica Herndon | Tampa Bay Times]
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  5. The Pasco County school district is considering adopting a policy for student medical marijuana use on district property. [Getty Images]
    The rule will not change the district’s current approach to the touchy topic.
  6. Shown in 2002, Carolyn Hill, then the principal of Kenly Elementary School in east Tampa, celebrated after 78 of her students improved their state scores and were treated to lunch at The Colonnade Restaurant. Hill, now deceased, might be honored Tuesday as the Hillsborough County School Board considers naming a school for her in the SouthShore area. STAFF  |  Tampa Bay Times
    School Board members will select a name on Tuesday
  7. Alachua County school superintendent Karen Clarke welcomes the crowd at a "listening session" Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 to discuss changes in the Florida's education standards. A similar session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at Jefferson High, 4401 W Cypress St. in Tampa. The Florida Channel
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  8. The Pinellas School Board recognized James Krull as the district's bus Driver of the Year at its meeting Tuesday. From left are board members Bill Dudley, Eileen Long, Carol Cook, Rene Flowers, Krull, and board members Nicole Carr, Joanne Lentino and Lisa Cane. Pinellas County Schools
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  9. In this image from a telecast by The Florida Channel, Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks to a Gainesville crowd that came to discuss revisions to the state's education standards this past week. “We’re going to end up with the world’s best standards,” Corcoran said. The Florida Channel
    The effort, ordered by Gov. Ron DeSantis, aims to transform the way students learn in public schools. A “listening session” is set for Tampa’s Jefferson High.
  10. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times  Florida Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr., R- Hialeah; Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, watch the passage of the school voucher bill Tuesday in the Florida House.
    The new program, designed to eliminate waiting lists for tax credit scholarships, is likely to be challenged in court.