1. Gradebook

Florida education news: Teacher of the Year, prekindergarten, computer science and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Dr. Dakeyan Graham celebrates being named Florida's 2020 Teacher of the Year with Hillsborough County superintendent Jeff Eakins and School Board members Cindy Stuart and Tamara Shamburger.
Dr. Dakeyan Graham celebrates being named Florida's 2020 Teacher of the Year with Hillsborough County superintendent Jeff Eakins and School Board members Cindy Stuart and Tamara Shamburger.
Published Jul. 19

TOP TEACHER: Dr. Dakeyan Graham, music teacher at his alma mater King High in Hillsborough County for the past decade, wins accolades as Florida’s 2020 Teacher of the Year. “Humbling does not even begin to define this moment,” he told the audience at the Orlando gala.

EARLY EDUCATION: The Florida Department of Education begins work to improve the state’s Voluntary Prekindergarten program, including assessment and funding.

LEADERSHIP: Highlands County citrus grower Andy Tuck is named chairman of the Florida Board of Education.

COMPUTER SCIENCES: Florida looks to increase the number of computer science teachers as it targets the field for growth, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

TURNAROUNDS: A struggling Marion County elementary school will get a different external operator for the next academic year, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. Superintendent Heidi Maier requested permission to make the change, and the State Board of Education readily agreed.

MORE PROBLEMS: A Manatee County charter school that recently has come under fire from the state faces a new set of complaints, as former employees say they’re owed thousands in back pay, WWSB reports.

COMMUNITY SCHOOLS: The University of Central Florida prepares to expand its Community Schools initiative to help more needy students, Fox 35 reports.

TAX SPAT: The Duval County School Board seeks legal advice as it faces opposition to its effort to call a sales tax special election, the Florida Times-Union reports.

LET HIM GO: The Florida Legislative Jewish Caucus calls for the firing of a Palm Beach County principal who questioned the reality of the Holocaust, Florida Politics reports.

HIRING CRITERIA: Facing a dearth of qualified candidates for bus and maintenance staff, the Bay County school district considers lowering the requirements for the jobs, the Panama City News Herald reports.

GIRLS WRESTLING: Florida appears on track to add girls wrestling to the selection of sanctioned high school sports, the Palm Beach Post reports.

REALLY? A finalist for Miami Dade College president tells a tale of meeting with gang members that raises so many questions that the search committee hires an investigator to check it out, the Miami Herald reports.

CONSTRUCTION FUNDS: The Santa Rosa County school district prepares a budget without any impact fees included, unable to convince the County Commission to impose the fee despite rapid growth, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

BAD ACTS: A former Duval County school bookkeeper is arrested on a dozen charges of fraud and theft against the school, the Florida Times-Union reports. • A Broward County teacher accused of improper hugging of students faces a 10-day suspension, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • A former Okaloosa County teacher whose child abuse charges contributed to the downfall of a superintendent is denied bond as she appeals her sentence, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports. • A former Miami-Dade County assistant principal faces first degree murder charges in the beating of a fellow educator, the Miami Herald reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins, shown at Mort Elementary School in 2016, is retiring effective June 30. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
    Jeff Eakins, the current superintendent, is retiring, effective June 30.
  2. Hillsborough county parents can check the district's website for their child's bus route and their school's bus schedule. Visit, click the link under "Preparing for Back to School," then find the links for "Bus Schedule" and "Bus Availability." For more information, call (813) 982-5500. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
    Our running list of the candidates to replace superintendent Jeff Eakins includes top educators with a wide range of experience.
  3. Tricia McManus, an assistant superintendent for the Hillsborough County School District, rolled out the district's new Achievement Zone plan for struggling schools at a community meeting in 2018. The word "zone" was removed early on. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
    Tricia McManus will become a deputy superintendent in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  4. A vigil at Pine Trails Park in Parkland for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Some schools have already closed for the holidays, but everyone should be off by the end of the day Dec. 20. [Times (2015)]
    Some schools are closing for the holidays this week; others won’t be done for a few days. Then it’s lights out until early January.
  6. This Feb. 19 photo shows a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File]
    The grand jury said districts are creating “unnecessary chaos” and have become “experts at data manipulation.”
  7. Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis with Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Sheriff Chad Chronister speaking at Hillsborough High School on Thursday, Dec. 12. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    If students feel supported, educators say, schools will be safer and more productive
  8. Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, presents his bill on civics education to the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee on Dec. 11, 2019. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport,’ sponsor Rep. Ben Diamond reminds colleagues.
  9. Haley Manigold, second from left, and Armwood High School classmates Maria Medina and Madison Harvey take a photo with Sen. Tom Lee, who is sponsoring their legislation, and teacher Tony Pirotta.  They presented their bill in the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. [EMILY L. MAHONEY  |  Times Staff]
    Armwood High senior Haley Manigold discusses her effort to convince lawmakers to adopt testing legislation.
  10. Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
    Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said she thinks Republican leaders want to keep the number under wraps because it points to the controversial program’s “failure.”