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Stop sharing student data with police unless parents agree, lawmakers say

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, sings the National Anthem with his daughter Charlotte"Lottie" Brandes at the start of the senate session of the Florida Legislature at the Capitol in Tallahassee on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. Brandes has proposed legislation limiting school districts' sharing of student data with law enforcement.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, sings the National Anthem with his daughter Charlotte"Lottie" Brandes at the start of the senate session of the Florida Legislature at the Capitol in Tallahassee on Tuesday, March 2, 2021. Brandes has proposed legislation limiting school districts' sharing of student data with law enforcement. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Mar. 8
Updated Mar. 8

The Pasco County school district’s sharing of student data with law enforcement has gained mostly negative attention since it became public a few months back. Teachers and parents lobbied the School Board to stop the practice. A national foundation said it wouldn’t give the district nearly $2 million in grant money it had been expecting. Now, the issue has prompted state lawmakers to act. Read on for the latest on that story and other Florida education news.

Parents are “up in arms” over Pasco’s practice, state Sen. Jeff Brandes said. He offered an amendment to his chamber’s version of a parental bill of rights bill to require parent consent to share children’s grades with law enforcement. “There’s labeling happening along with the collection of the records that says that these particular kids have the potential for a life of crime or committing a crime, and that is just absurd,” said state Sen. Audrey Gibson, who backed the proposal. The House version does not include the change.

In other Tallahassee action

A state Senate committee will hear legislation to alter Bright Futures and financial aid rules. Students are organizing opposition to the idea, Politico Florida reports.

State lawmakers created the “Schools of Hope” charter school system four years ago. They’re starting to come to fruition in Polk County, the Ledger reports. With a sidebar.

The Legislature continues to look for ways to protect teens from preventable deaths. New legislation would require all middle and high school football players to get a heart screening before playing, WFTS reports.

State revenue isn’t as bad as expected. Collections for January outpaced the forecasts, which could help lawmakers as they set budgets for the upcoming fiscal year, the News Service of Florida reports.

What’s happening today? The House Government Operations subcommittee meets at 10 a.m., and will discuss legislation to require public union members, including teachers, to reaffirm annually their desire to have dues deducted from their paychecks. • A measure to grant in-state tuition to out-of-state students with Florida resident grandparents has begun moving through the state House, the News Service of Florida reports. It will be heard in the House Higher Education Appropriations subcommittee, which meets for two hours at 3:45 p.m. • The House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee has an hour-long session set for 11 a.m. Its agenda is primarily to consider local spending bills and review state- and federally-funded reading initiatives.

Coronavirus concerns

Cases continue to crop up in schools. The four Tampa Bay area districts are steady, averaging 500 to 600 cases per week. • The numbers have been declining in Marion County, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

There’s been much talk about the learning lost during the pandemic. The term “not on grade level” means something different for each student, the Herald-Tribune reports. Sarasota-area schools are working on remediation as state exams near. • St. Lucie County elementary schools have used after-school programs to bring struggling students back on track in reading, TC Palm reports.

The cost of inaction raises the stakes. Several experts say the fallout could be long term, WMFE reports.

How bad has online learning been for students? The former principal of Volusia County’s virtual school accused her district of mismanaging the platform, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

The pressure has been high to get children back into classrooms. Monroe County’s superintendent apologized as she told middle and high schools to reopen for daily in-person instruction at the insistence of Florida’s education commissioner, the Florida Keys Weekly reports. The schools had been operating on a hybrid schedule because of health-related issues, and some parents had complained. More from WLRN.

Masks are required in school. Some Collier County parents are petitioning to end that requirement, WINK reports. • They aren’t always conducive to music and arts classes, but Manatee and Sarasota county schools are making it work, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Some seniors still want their celebrations. The St. Johns County school district announced it won’t sponsor proms or other mass gatherings that involve dinner and dance this spring, the St. Augustine Record reports. It will allow alternative activities with social distancing enforced. • A Martin County teen planned a non-school prom after his district canceled, but some parents and students have tried to stop the event as unsafe, WPTV reports. • Polk County high schools plan to return to in-person graduations with safety precautions at the RP Funding Center, the Ledger reports.

Come watch some sports, at least. The Miami-Dade County school district has eased some attendance restrictions on its outdoor competitions, WFOR reports.

Diversity issues

A Duval County magnet school’s principal is out after setting up segregated parent meetings. She’s being required to attend diversity training, the Florida Times-Union reports.

The Brevard County school district has released new rules making accommodations for LGBTQ youth. Some conservative parents and public figures are fighting back, WKMG reports. More from Florida Today.

In other school news

Don’t go hungry during spring break. The Duval County school district joined with Feeding Northeast Florida to provide food baskets to needy children for the week off, WJXT reports.

There are other illnesses besides the coronavirus. About 60 students and staff at a Seminole County elementary school were told to stay home after a gastrointestinal outbreak on campus, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

A portion of roof collapsed at a Broward County school in an area under construction. Chaos at the scene scared some students, who thought a school shooting had occurred, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Questions emerged when a Citrus County charter school principal abruptly resigned in January. A newly released district investigative report offers explanations, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Before you go ... And now for Women’s History Month, a brief look at the Equal Rights Amendment. The Florida House passed the ERA four times in the 1970s and ‘80s, but never found its way to national passage. Here’s some historical footage from the Wolfson archive.