Student violence, threats are on the rise at Florida schools

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Students are seen during dismissal at Greco Middle School Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 in Temple Terrace. A physical education teacher at the school, who was assaulted this week by a student, sent a detailed memo to the Hillsborough School Board pleading for more support.
Students are seen during dismissal at Greco Middle School Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 in Temple Terrace. A physical education teacher at the school, who was assaulted this week by a student, sent a detailed memo to the Hillsborough School Board pleading for more support. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Oct. 4, 2021|Updated Oct. 4, 2021

Violent incidents, and threats of them, have been occurring with rising regularity at some Florida schools. Law enforcement have been called out on nearly a daily basis in some counties, responding to tips of bomb threats, kids with guns and other problems. Some observers have suggested it’s fallout from the pandemic. It’s becoming problematic. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

‘I have never worked at a more chaotic place.’ A teacher at Hillsborough County’s Greco Middle School raised concerns for faculty and staff safety amid rising student violence.

Threats of violence have been occurring more frequently in Alachua County schools. A student was arrested in connection with the most recent bomb threat at Gainesville High, the Main Street Daily News reports.

Tips play a part in stopping the activity. One led to the arrest of a Miami-Dade County student who attempted to come to school armed, WPLG reports. • A 12-year-old Flagler County student was arrested after a teacher overheard her saying she planned to shoot up her school, Flagler Live reports. The girl told officers she was “just playing.”

Will increased law enforcement presence help? Leon County public schools are about to find out, WTXL reports.

Public input

Some Florida school boards have stopped residents from speaking if they name specific officials in their comments. A lawyer has called on the Alachua County School Board to stop the practice, claiming it’s a First Amendment violation, the Alachua Chronicle reports.

With comment sessions growing heated, several boards also are looking to revamp their rules on public input. Brevard County’s board is exploring ideas such as shortening speaker times when the list is long, and preventing the display of signs, Florida Today reports.

Coronavirus concerns

Gov. DeSantis won another round over mask mandates. A federal judge refused to reconsider his denial of an injunction on the governor’s order, reiterating that students have options for better education solutions than acting against DeSantis, the News Service of Florida reports.

More parents are pushing back. Groups in Duval and Alachua counties asked a court to require their superintendents to undo strict mask requirements, contending the district policies violate state law, WJXT reports. More from the Gainesville Sun.

The State Board of Education will chime in this week. It has scheduled a 1 p.m. Thursday conference call to review the policies of 11 school districts. • One of those districts, Sarasota County, will have a board meeting Tuesday to consider rescinding its mask rule, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Employee issues

St. Petersburg College faculty voted to unionize. They said worsening work conditions have negatively affected their ability to serve students.

‘We cannot live off this pay.’ Miami-Dade County school bus drivers protested for higher wages, WTVJ reports.

Citrus County district officials are exploring whether to have athletic trainers at all high schools. The discussion comes after a teen football player died at practice, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Follow what’s happening in Tampa Bay schools

Follow what’s happening in Tampa Bay schools

Subscribe to our free Gradebook newsletter

We’ll break down the local and state education developments you need to know every Thursday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Other school news

The latest in school culture wars: Pride flags on campus. Of course, Florida has examples, NBC reports.

A federal appellate court has set a date to hear the St. Johns County school district case on transgender student rights. A full slate of judges will convene in February to consider the issues, the News Service of Florida reports.

Spurred on by a teacher, some teens at a Polk County high school protested their principal. Four more were arrested, accused of “criminally escalating matters,” the Ledger reports.

Being bilingual can only help. Children attending a new charter school in Sarasota will get instruction in English and Spanish, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Welcome to FAMU. The university is hand-delivering acceptance letters to students attending Leon County high schools, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Before you go ... School districts across Florida are struggling to hire in several employee categories. Maybe the Backstreet Boys have some advice for them?


Truth story! ##teachersoftiktok ##teachersof2021

♬ As Long as You Love Me - Backstreet Boys

• • •

Sign up for the Gradebook newsletter!

Every Thursday, get the latest updates on what’s happening in Tampa Bay area schools from Times education reporter Jeffrey S. Solochek. Click here to sign up.