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Pasco schools under investigation over data sharing with sheriff

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Caitlin Al-Mutawa, of Tampa, a speech-language pathologist with Veteran's Elementary School in Wesley Chapel, speaks out against student information and data sharing between the Pasco County Schools and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office during a Pasco School Board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in Land O' Lakes.
Caitlin Al-Mutawa, of Tampa, a speech-language pathologist with Veteran's Elementary School in Wesley Chapel, speaks out against student information and data sharing between the Pasco County Schools and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office during a Pasco School Board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in Land O' Lakes. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Apr. 20
Updated Apr. 20

A program in which the Pasco County school district shares some of its student information with law enforcement gained quick notoriety as soon as it became publicized. The story went viral, and before long a prominent member of Congress was asking some questions. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

The chairman of the House Education committee said the arrangement sounded illegal and called for an investigation. Now the U.S. Department of Education is taking a closer look at what’s going on.

Board room battles

A Hillsborough County School Board member wants to dump the district’s superintendent. Her method for seeking her colleagues’ support has raised concerns that she’s violating the state’s open meetings laws. After public discussion, the board laid out some plans for moving forward with evaluating the district CEO.

The Flagler County school district’s transgender-nondiscrimination rule has drawn complaints. The district hasn’t faced problems with the issue, but expects growing protests at board meetings, Flagler Live reports.

Coronavirus concerns

Should masks be mandatory? The Bay County school district had been planning to make face coverings optional before education commissioner Richard Corcoran ever suggested it, the Panama City News Herald reports.

Back to school they go. Martin County schools are the latest to announce a full return to in-person classes in the fall, WPTV reports.

Now hiring. The Manatee County school district is holding job fairs to hire teachers, custodians and bus drivers, the Bradenton Herald reports. The search will take place virtually because of the pandemic.

Testing and accountability

State officials placed new requirements on a struggling Escambia County middle school. Local board members expressed frustration with the added layer of stipulations, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

To seek school grades, or not, remains a question for districts statewide. Monroe County officials said they want to confer with colleagues before deciding which way to go, the Florida Keys Weekly reports.

Will struggling students be able to advance a grade after this year? With tests not counting, principals and teachers will play a greater role in making that decision, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Safety and security

The Palm Beach County school district has named a new chief for its police department. Officials expect him to have a better relationship with the rank and file than his predecessor, who resigned, the Palm Beach Post reports.

A Lake County school safety guardian and dean have resigned before they could be fired. They’re accused of dragging a 6-year-old up a stairwell and down a hall, WFTV reports.

Some school district officials say vaping does damage to their schools, and forces them to spend unnecessarily on prevention. The Volusia County school district is joining a class action lawsuit against vaping companies, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Hackers demanded money from the Broward County school district after accessing thousands of student files. Now they’ve published nearly 26,000 records online, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Tallahassee action

The Florida House is ready to take up major legislation to expand private school vouchers. Parents of children with disabilities fear the measure would hurt their children’s access to education scholarships, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

House and Senate education budget negotiators couldn’t agree on how to use federal stimulus funds. The entire spending plan next heads to the appropriations chairs for their review, Florida Politics reports.

A bill to require schools to observe a Victims of Communism Day continued its move though the House. It received its first “no” vote amid questions why the state would create such a recognition without considering the victims of slavery as well, Florida Politics reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The Senate Rules Committee has a daylong session planned, where it will discuss several bills including one relating to the impact of COVID-19 on schools. • The full House is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s the link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... Who’d have thought the math order of operations would become a trending item on Twitter? For a few hours Monday, there it was. All because of this seemingly simple problem.

One person offered a solution to cut through all the arguments that occurred over the equation.