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Florida education news: Palm Beach will fire principal in Holocaust controversy, Bethune statue gets closer, lawyers settle FIU bridge cases

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Among the stories in today's education roundup: Six companies have agreed to settle victim lawsuits over last year's pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University in Miami. [Associated Press]
Among the stories in today's education roundup: Six companies have agreed to settle victim lawsuits over last year's pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University in Miami. [Associated Press]
Published Jul. 11, 2019

FIRING THE PRINCIPAL: Palm Beach County school superintendent Donald Fennoy says he will move to fire the former Spanish River High principal who has generated a torrent of criticism in recent days over his comments about the Holocaust, the Palm Beach Post reports. “I have lost confidence in his leadership,” the superintendent said.

CHARTER WOES: The Manatee County School District puts the pressure on Lincoln Memorial Academy with six notices in the past week that call attention to the charter school’s financial and leadership problems, the Bradenton Herald reports.

BETHUNE STATUE: Gov. Ron DeSantis has formally asked that the statue of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune replace the likeness of a Confederate general as a representative of Florida in the U.S. Capitol, according to reports from News Service of Florida and Florida Phoenix. ... Also on Wednesday, a local company, Brown & Brown Inc., donated $25,000 to the statue campaign, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

FIU BRIDGE SETTLEMENT: Six companies have agreed to settle lawsuits over the Florida International University pedestrian bridge that collapsed in 2018, killing six people and injuring eight, the Miami Herald reports.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Gov. Ron DeSantis appoints Nicole Washington to the Miami Dade College board of trustees after previously rescinding her appointment right after he took office, Florida Phoenix reports.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS: Forty-one percent of K-12 students attending Florida private schools used a state-sponsored scholarship for tuition, but the number of students who attend without that aid is growing. That’s one of the takeaways from a detailed analysis of private school enrollment by redefinED.

DUVAL TAX PUSH: The Florida Times-Union outlines which local groups support a proposed half-cent sales tax for Duval County schools and which ones do not. A recent poll showed 75 percent support for the tax among registered voters.

SCHOOL SAFETY: In Citrus County, questions over an agreement about armed school employees have delayed the signing of two student-safety contracts between the sheriff’s office and the school district, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

TEST RESULTS: A Florida Today analysis determined the top and bottom five Brevard schools by passing rate in three major subjects, grouped by grade level.

WOZ WEIGHS IN: In a video released Wednesday, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak congratulates the Manatee County School District and one of its Title I schools for adopting a STEM program called Woz Pathways, the Bradenton Herald reports. “Everyone at Woz is looking forward to seeing what your learners design and build this year,” Wozniak said.

OLD SCHOOL: The Cultural Resources Review Board in St. John’s County is considering landmark designation for the century-old Hastings High School, which has been vacant for over a year, the St. Augustine Record reports.


  1. More than 100 people turned out Jan. 15, 2019, to give the Pasco County School Board their thoughts on the district's policy and procedures for transgender student rights. [JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  2. Hudson High student Kaitlyn Helzer introduces herself to a curious corn snake during the Nature Coast Envirothon, held Feb. 19 at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Sumter County. Students from Pasco, Hernando, Sumter and Citrus counties tested their knowledge on aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife while vying for a spot at state competition. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
  3. 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. [JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ  |  Times]
  4. Teacher Dequita Parker guides youngsters to lunch from the playground Sept. 20 at the PromiseLand Early Childhood Education Center in Tampa.
  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. Sen. Audrey Gibson, leader of the Florida Senate Democrats, introduces a bill in January to refocus the $900 million proposed for teacher pay into salaries for all public school employees. It's just one of many ideas still floating around Tallahassee relating to educator raises. [The Florida Channel]
  7. A small group of students were rushed inside a bus at dismissal at AMIKids on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 in Pinellas Park.  [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  8. School employees Jarvis Delon West, left, and Dontae Antonio Thomas, right, were both arrested in connection with the assault and injury of a 12-year-old boy who attended AMIkids in Pinellas Park. The state shut the school down. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  9. First Lady Casey DeSantis talks with students during the Hope for Healing a mental and substance abuse initiative held Roland Park K-8 School in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said state officials worked closely with DeSantis to craft the new rule. OCTAVIO JONES | Times
  10. In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after a shooter opened fire on the campus. [MIKE STOCKER  |  AP]
  11. Pinellas County School Board member Carol Cook, left, celebrates her reelection to her fifth term in 2016. If ultimately approved, a term limits proposal would force Florida's school board members out after two consecutive terms.
  12. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini fields questions on the House floor on Feb. 19, 2020, about his proposal to ask voters to limit school board member terms. [The Florida Channel]