A Tampa Catholic school is sued for being ‘woke.’ Alumni disagree.

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Academy of the Holy Names Catholic School pictured on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in Tampa.
Academy of the Holy Names Catholic School pictured on Wednesday, July 7, 2021 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published July 19, 2021

And we’re back. Thanks for your patience during a much needed time away to recharge the batteries. Rather than recap all the many stories from that time, we offer a sampling as an entry back to the daily updates. Always feel free to keep those tips and ideas coming. Read on for your Florida education news.

A philanthropist sued Academy of the Holy Names, contending it was no longer Catholic enough. Hundreds of alumni pushed back, saying the Tampa school’s teaching demonstrated faith in action.

State action

State officials said the Hillsborough School Board went too far in rejected several charter school renewals. The board will have an emergency session this week to consider its next steps. • The State Board also adopted controversial new civics standards at the same meeting.

Gov. DeSantis said teachers and principals should get their state bonuses in August. Of concern: The federal government has opined the stimulus funds can’t be used for that purpose, the News Service of Florida reports.

Mental health issues

The pandemic stressed out many Florida students. Those with mental health concerns experienced significant challenges, the Bradenton Herald reports.

Heading into the new “normal” year is raising anxiety, too. It’s prompted the Miami-Dade County school district to hire several more mental health experts, the Miami Herald reports.

Three Okeechobee County school district employees have died of suicide in the past 10 months. The district is preparing to offer more services to assist and support staff, WPTV reports.

District leadership

A tip led to the arrest of outgoing Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie. It came from inside his administration, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • The district’s public relations director tried to orchestrate a drive to keep Runcie in his post, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Meanwhile, former superintendent Jim Notter dropped his bid to retake the job on an interim basis, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Palm Beach County superintendent Donald Fennoy announced his resignation. He said the pandemic helped him make the decision to focus more on his family, WLRN reports. More from the Palm Beach Post.

Sarasota County’s new superintendent got top marks in his first performance evaluation. Some observers raised concerns he might tire of the district’s “nastiness” before long, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Race relations

Miami-Dade County parents blasted the school district for teaching “critical race theory.” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho reiterated that the approach is not used in the district, and will not be, the Miami Herald reports.

Brevard County’s Black students are performing worse than their peers on tests and other measures. District officials are exploring the reasons and seeking responses, Florida Today reports.

The Central Gulf Coast Children’s Defense Fund set up a six-week Freedom School in Pensacola this summer. Students of color who attended improved their reading skills, and also increased their awareness of equality and social justice, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

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School news

To mask, or not to mask, in the fall? The Catholic school system serving the Palm Beach County area is encouraging all unvaccinated students to wear face coverings while on campus, WPTV reports.

Wanted: Certified teachers. Several school districts in southwest Florida are struggling to fill vacant teaching positions, as well as other jobs such as bus driver, WFTX reports.

Turnaround efforts continue at Florida’s low-performing schools. Federal grant funds will help pay for added services at one Marion County elementary school, the Ocala Star Banner reports. • Twenty-one Polk County schools qualified for the financial assistance, the Ledger reports.

Bay County students have a new dress code for the new school year. It’s stricter than in past years, the Panama City News Herald reports.

Martin County school district officials are looking at where to store buses. Quick access to students for safety during emergencies is a key factor, TC Palm reports.

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