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Bills on transgender student-athletes, teacher union dues near death

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
The Florida House has passed a bill that would block transgender children from playing on sports teams that align with their gender.
The Florida House has passed a bill that would block transgender children from playing on sports teams that align with their gender.
Published Apr. 21
Updated Apr. 21

About 30 states throughout the nation have been debating legislation to prevent transgender girls and women from participating in school sports. Florida appeared to be on the fast track to approve the idea. Then it hit the skids. It’s not the only bill in that position as the 2021 legislative session nears its end. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

The bill was in its final Senate stop before heading to the floor. Sponsor Sen. Kelli Stargel said the chambers needed to get to the desired policy while still preserving the dignity of each individual. The House version had included a provision that called for proof of gender, with one option being a physical inspection of “reproductive anatomy.”

More Tallahassee action

A bill to change the way teacher unions collect member dues also appeared near death. The controversial measure was not heard in its final committee, which is not scheduled to meet again, Florida Politics reports.

Lawmakers have long spoken of needing to protect the identity of applicants for state college and university president jobs. The measure has gotten further in the process this year than ever before.

The Florida House and Senate haven’t reached agreement on higher education funding. House leaders said the Senate approach could disproportionately affect low income students, Florida Politics reports.

The chambers are closer on sex education rules. Bills to clarify parents’ ability to opt their children out of the lessons head to the floor today, the News Service of Florida reports.

The House is set to expand Florida’s voucher program. Its legislation would increase eligibility for the program to families making up to 375 percent of the federal poverty level, the News Service of Florida reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The Senate holds floor session beginning at 10 a.m. Bills on special order include SB 48 on vouchers, HB 529 on moments of silence, SB 7070 on COVID-related impacts to schools, and SB 582 creating a “parents’ bill of rights.” • The full House convenes at 10 a.m. also. Bills on third and final reading include HB 7045 on vouchers, HB 3 on free books to low-achieving students, HJR 1461 on school board term limits, HB 7033 on closing the achievement gap for boys, and HB 7011 on student literacy.

Coronavirus concerns

Florida’s mask debate continued. The Pinellas County School Board said it won’t cancel its mandate this year, but will consider going optional for summer school. • Sarasota County school officials said they’d let their mask requirement sunset June 30, and look at making it voluntary for the second half of summer school, the North Port Sun reports.

Many students need extra help to get on track with their education. All Bay County schools will offer summer classes this year toward that goal, the Panama City News Herald reports.

School rules

The Lee County school district’s poster spelling out LGBTQ student rights drew heavy opposition. The School Board plans another meeting on the subject, while trying to combat inaccuracies about the guidelines, the Lehigh Acres Citizen reports.

The Osceola County school district passed new rules governing its response to sexual misconduct on campus. The move comes after a year of pressure from the community, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Other school news

That’s suspicious. A Citrus County school campus went into lockdown when its custodian called law enforcement about a suspicious person on the grounds. It was the lawn crew, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

No new taxes. Bay County voters rejected a property tax referendum that would have put more money into teacher salaries, the Panama City News Herald reports.

Five finalists are in the hunt to become Polk County’s next superintendent. They’re in town meeting people, the Ledger reports.

A Duval County high school was ready to hold prom. It got canceled due to a lack of interest, WJCT reports.

The Jefferson County School Board has twice rejected an application for a virtual charter school. The Florida Department of Education says the district must provide specific reasons for the denial, the Jefferson County Journal reports.

From the police blotter ... A Miami-Dade County school bus driver was arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into an insurance fraud scheme, WPLG reports.

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

Before you go ... You’ve heard the news. But it’s big. So here’s the judge in the Chauvin case delivering justice.