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Finding diversity in Florida schools isn’t always easy

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
In this image from bodycam footage from March 4, 2021, St. Petersburg police officer George Graves interviews Azalea Middle School teacher Melanie Coney about a decoration she removed from another teacher’s door. In the foreground is a letter from the school’s Black History Month Committee that was posted on the door explaining the reason for the removal.
In this image from bodycam footage from March 4, 2021, St. Petersburg police officer George Graves interviews Azalea Middle School teacher Melanie Coney about a decoration she removed from another teacher’s door. In the foreground is a letter from the school’s Black History Month Committee that was posted on the door explaining the reason for the removal. [ St. Petersburg Police Department ]
Published Mar. 15
Updated Mar. 15

Schools across Florida and the nation spent much of the past year dealing with issues related to race relations, social justice and diversity — topics made increasingly relevant after summertime protests and rallies that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. Black History Month activities offered an opportunity to enhance the message. In some instances, though, the effort backfired. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

One Pinellas County school had a door decorating contest to advance Black history lessons. Tensions flared after one teacher posted “All Lives Matter” decorations.

Coronavirus: One year later

It’s been a year since the pandemic first closed classrooms. School leaders have started reflecting on the challenges they faced, and how to deal with them, the Miami Herald reports. More from Florida Phoenix.

Many students have struggled while attending remotely. They’ve fallen behind academically, while also suffering socially, the Miami Herald reports.

Substitute teachers have been unwilling to take classes during the pandemic. The Lee County school district is suffering a shortage, WINK reports.

Sorry, seniors. Manatee County high schools have canceled prom for a second year, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Citrus County high schools are looking for creative compromises to allow their events to go one, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

The goal is to get back to normalcy. Vaccinating teachers is helping schools approach that aim, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

‘How do we build and make sure that kids are getting everything that they need?’ Florida Education Association leaders urged officials to pay attention to what’s needed to get past the worst of the pandemic, WJXT reports. • Many educators are calling on lawmakers to pay attention to the effects the pandemic had on children, and how things like testing might impact them, WCTV reports.

Students have similar concerns. Some Okaloosa County teens brought their questions and thoughts about their year of pandemic schooling to their school board at a recent forum, WEAR reports. • Volusia County student-athletes had an unusual season beyond the classroom, too, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • Some Broward County students said it felt good to be back in school after a year in online classes, Tap Into Coral Springs reports.

Spring testing is still set for April. Talk of opting out is growing in Polk County, the Ledger reports. • State law says testing isn’t optional, but the Palm Beach County school district has suggested it is, Boca News reports.

Will remote classes remain in the fall? Many districts are awaiting guidelines from the state Department of Education, WKMG reports. Some already are considering dropping the model. • Santa Rosa County schools hope to further increase in-person classes by then, WEAR reports.

In other school news

Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis meets with Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho in Tampa on Friday, March 12.
Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis meets with Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho in Tampa on Friday, March 12. [ Hillsborough County School District ]

Hillsborough County schools stand on the brink of financial disaster. District officials got some advice on how to bounce back from Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who once faced a similar situation.

Parents and students complained about the bullying and harassment by this Palm Beach County teacher for years. She never lost her right to teach, the Palm Beach Post reports.

An Alachua County high school principal has been removed. The move reportedly is tied to the principal’s failure to tell parents their children were interviewed during an investigation into a teacher’s behavior, WCJB reports.

Schools in the Sunshine State barely use solar power. New legislation would make it easier to do so, Solar Builder reports.

Many 5-year-olds are not ready for kindergarten. The numbers could worsen as prekindergarten participation dropped this year, WUSF reports.

The Bay County school district is providing information about an upcoming tax referendum. Some residents have accused the district of inappropriately advocating for the measure, WJHG reports.

A Manatee County former charter school is set for another round of change. The school district, which took over the campus, plans to convert the school into a medical magnet, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Today in Tallahassee. The House Children, Families and Seniors subcommittee will hear a bill on early learning coalition and VPK changes when it meets at 1 p.m. The House Higher Education Appropriations subcommittee also meets at 1 p.m.

From the court docket ... The teen whose cyber-attack felled the Miami-Dade County school district’s online learning platform in the fall won’t face jail time, the Miami Herald reports.

Before you go ... The U.S. Navy Blue Angels have super cool new jets this year, as the Pensacola News-Journal reports. Check out this training video from the group’s preparations to begin its 75th show season.

Vertical Break over NAF El Centro!

Thank you to Naval Air Facility El Centro and all of the people of Imperial Valley for the hospitality while hosting us for our winter training these past few months. We are so excited to hit the road and start our 75th show season! Check out this video of Lt. Cmdr. Jim Cox, Blue Angel #4, performing the Vertical Break over NAF El Centro! #BlueAngels #USNavy #USMC #Aviation #FlyNavy

Posted by U.S. Navy Blue Angels on Friday, March 12, 2021