Gov. DeSantis signs charter school bill with transgender sports ban

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that would block transgender children from playing on sports teams that align with their gender.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that would block transgender children from playing on sports teams that align with their gender.
Published June 2, 2021|Updated June 2, 2021

Gov. Ron DeSantis had one bill on his desk on Tuesday. HB 1028 included plenty of education-related issues, with one of them taking lawmakers to the wire of their 2021 session. DeSantis called a press conference in Jacksonville, where he surrounded himself with Republican legislators seeking to connect themselves to that single issue. They called it the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

The bill started out as a charter school measure. Its final form included rules relating to charter school authorization, elementary school retention and more. It was the section on transgender student athlete participation in school sports that got all the governor’s attention. Critics noted he signed it on the first day of Pride Month, which the governor said was not a specific message, and expected lawsuits to follow, Florida Politics reports.

The topics of transgender sports participation and other LGBTQ student rights have stirred much debate in recent months. The Lee County school district had in its annual handbook a best practices guide for LGBTQ students who encounter discrimination. Then the School Board dropped the guide under community pressure, with plans to replace it with something different, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

Diversity issues

It’s been nearly a year since a proposal emerged to rename six Duval County schools that recognized Confederate soldiers. The School Board approved the recommended changes on Tuesday, the Florida Times-Union reports. But not without hearing some community opposition, as NPR reports. Here’s more on how the process took place, from the Times-Union.

Why did the Palm Beach County School Board cut language about “white privilege” from its equity statement? Chairman Frank Barbieri shared his views with Boca Magazine.

Universities regularly base tenure decisions on a faculty member’s teaching and research. In Florida and elsewhere, they increasingly are looking at a professor’s diversity work, as well, Forbes reports.

More hot topics

Civics lessons: The State Board of Education is poised to adopt civics education standards revisions that he’s asked for, too. Some of the earliest proposals that gained negative attention, such as references to specific religious viewpoints, have been removed as the draft advances.

Mask mandates: The Osceola County school district will end its face covering requirement on July 1, WKMG reports. • The Nassau County school district made masks optional effective June 5, WJAX reports.

Dress code: The St. Johns County school district is forming a dress code advisory committee amid accusations of sexism in enforcement. Two freshman girls whose yearbook photos were altered to make them appear more modest will serve on the group, WTXL reports.

Other school news

The governor has the budget. He said he intends to sign it during recent appearances touting teacher and principal bonuses, Florida Politics reports.

Now it’s time to say goodbye. The Clermont Middle School community gathered to mark the Lake County school’s final closing, as it makes way for a new K-8 facility, WKMG reports.

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Summer school is in session. The Lee County school district is one of many anticipating larger than usual enrollment, WINK reports. Schools across the Tampa Bay area also are gearing up to tackle the “COVID slide,” WUSF reports.

From the police blotter ... A Collier County teen was arrested on accusations of threatening a high school mass shooting, WFTX reports.

From the court docket ... Florida State University is asking for dismissal of a class-action lawsuit brought by students seeking refunds for in-person learning they didn’t receive during the pandemic, the News Service of Florida reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... Longtime Pasco County educator Todd Cluff once gave up his assistant superintendent post to get back into schools. He found his place as principal of Seven Springs Elementary, where he often was known to bring the kids a song. He retires at the end of the year. And to round out the year, he brought his students one last song, classroom by classroom and then on the playground. Forgive the blurry video, shared by school staff, but check out the joy that the children and principal could find together.