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Florida education news: Alternative school, mental health and burrowing owls

A roundup of stories from around the state.
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]
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]

NO LONGER AN ALTERNATIVE: Things moved quickly at the Pinellas County alternative school for boys after reports surfaced of a staffer body slamming a 12-year-old and then no one seeking help as the boy suffered. The state launched an investigation. The school district cut ties with the agency. Now there’s been an arrest, and the AMIKids center could soon be no more.

MENTAL HEALTH LESSONS: The Florida Board of Education mandated that every middle and high school must provide five hours of mental health curriculum to every sixth through twelfth grader every year. It didn’t say exactly how to do so. The Pasco County school district has found an unique way to reach all those students.

COLLEGE MERGER: At first blush, the idea of merging two of Florida’s smallest universities into the largest ones appeared highly unlikely. Now the proposal is on a fast track in the House, though slightly altered, the Herald-Tribune reports. Concerns raised by New College students didn’t sway House Speaker José Oliva, that’s for sure, Florida Politics reports.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCHES: The Martin County school district is looking for its first appointed superintendent. Residents say they want a listener, problem solver, relationship builder, TC Palm reports. • The Monroe County School Board has an offer ready to promote its director of teaching and learning to the district’s top spot, the Key West Citizen reports.

SCHOOL SAFETY: A state grand jury has spent months looking into whether Florida’s school districts are meeting the security requirements set forth in law. How’s Hernando County doing? The Hernando Sun reports.

TEACHER DISCIPLINE: The Broward County school district fired a teacher accused of choking a student. Wrong move, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

AFTER THE THREAT: Law enforcement and school officials have made clear that students who threaten schools face potentially severe consequences. But are they really? WINK reports on what happens after the arrest.

COLLEGE CHOICES: Florida high school seniors face a looming deadline to pick which university or college to attend. A counselor offers some practical tips on making that decision, the Ledger reports.

OVERSIGHT: The Palm Beach County School Board’s chairman has been trying to limit the authority of the district’s inspector general. His effort hasn’t gone so well, the Palm Beach Post reports.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Collier County students will face an earlier start date when they end summer break, the Naples Daily News reports. Their new calendar holds a few other surprises for them, too.

TIME TO SETTLE? The city of Jacksonville and the Duval County school district have battled nearly a year over how the district can place a sales tax referendum before voters. They’re nearing an agreement, the Florida Times-Union reports, but some legal matters still need ironing out.

ON THE BALLOT: Monroe County voters will decide whether to extend a local-option property tax increase that helps keep its teacher salaries high, WLRN reports.

VOUCHER BATTLE: Critics of the state’s tax credit scholarship and voucher programs have a message for the Legislature: Spend the money on public schools instead of private ones, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

NO PLACE TO SIT: Several Orange County housing developments are on hold. Crowded schools are a key reason why, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

OWL HABITAT: The city of North Lauderdale admonishes the Broward County school district for destroying five active burrowing owl mounds, WPLG reports.

DENIED: Leaders of a shuttered Manatee County charter school sought a new hearing before an administrative law judge who ruled the closure was appropriate, citing new evidence. They were denied, the Bradenton Herald reports.

TODAY: It’s a rare quiet Monday, with nothing major scheduled. Maybe you could teach yourself or your students how to make a podcast. NPR can teach you how.

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