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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, 2019

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. Harrison Peters, Chief of Schools in Hillsborough County, is close to landing a job as superintendent in Providence, R.I. [HCPS  |  Handout]
    The Boston Globe says Peters is days from being given a superintendent position.
  2. Gov. Ron DeSantis. [STEVE CANNON  |  AP]
    Florida students will read more classical literature and learn math differently, according to summary documents.
  3. Janessa Horsford, 5, says goodbye to her parents, Julytsa and Nigel Horsford, on her first day of kindergarten at Lake Magdalene Elementary School.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  4. Miranda Harwood, a fourth-grade math teacher at Brooker Elementary School, is the Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year. [Hillsborough County Public Schools]
    The self-described “data queen” uses humor to keep her students engaged.
  5. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    Five girls and one boy will face charges after lunchtime fights disrupted the Pasco County campus, according to the school district.
  6. State Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, presents legislation to create a new chapter of Florida law dedicated to parents' rights when dealing with government and other agencies, during a committee meeting Jan. 23, 2020. [The Florida Channel]
    Parents have been marginalized by bureaucracy, and need to be empowered in law, sponsor Rep. Erin Grall says.
  7. Kurt Browning, left, is seeking a third term as superintendent of Pasco County schools. Addison Davis, right, is negotiating a contract to become Hillsborough County's next superintendent. [Tampa Bay Times (2016, 2020)]
    A Hillsborough search and Pasco election offer insights into the job and its importance.
  8. This time last year, Nicole Kenngatt, holding hands with student Lilly Crandall, was announced as Teacher of the Year. The award for the 2019-20 school year will be given Wednesday in a ceremony at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. [JAY NOLAN  |  Special to the Times]
    The winner for 2019-20 will be announced Wednesday during the Pinellas Education Foundation’s annual “Evening of Excellence.”
  9. An empty classroom at Bloomingdale High School in Hillsborough County. [Skip O'Rourke | Times] [SKIP O'ROURKE  |  Skip O'Rourke]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. State Rep. Wyman Duggan, a Jacksonville Republican, presents his bill to create a "do not hire" list for any school employee who has been terminated, or resigned in lieu of termination, from employment as a result of sexual misconduct with a student. [The Florida Channel]
    The measure would apply to district, charter and private schools.