Florida School Boards Association denounces calls to investigate protesters

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
An unidentified, anti-mask protester was escorted out of a Hillsborough County School Board retreat in May.
An unidentified, anti-mask protester was escorted out of a Hillsborough County School Board retreat in May. [ MARLENE SOKOL | Times ]
Published Oct. 12, 2021

There’s been much attention paid to the back and forth in school board rooms in Florida and across the nation, as residents confront officials — and sometimes one another — over controversial issues such as masks. The National School Boards Association called on the federal government to act against threats, and the Justice Department responded. An uproar over the term “domestic terrorist” to describe what many saw as people expressing their views ensued. This week, the Florida School Boards Association spoke up. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

The state organization criticized its national counterpart for the way it asked for federal investigations into protesting parents. Calling the action unnecessarily distracting, the FSBA said it would not pay its dues until the NSBA takes steps to improve leadership, transparency and non-partisanship, Space Coast Daily News reports. Read the letter here.

School choice

Districts are looking for more ways to appeal to families as school choice windows approach. The Pasco County school district added orchestra middle-high school zones to its list of options.

An Escambia County school focused on arts and sciences lacked a focus for its music lessons. It’s launching a ‘School of Rock’ program to get kids more engaged, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Coronavirus concerns

Florida gave families the option of quarantining children who were exposed to COVID-19 but showed no symptoms. In Brevard County, that’s meant a decrease in quarantines, Florida Today reports.

Six school districts have challenged the Department of Health rule, which also bars districts from strict mask mandates. Lawyers for the state are asking the court to throw out the case, saying the districts have no standing to bring the complaint, the News Service of Florida reports. An administrative law judge rejected a similar motion previously, before the department issued a revised rule.

Some of their boards met to talk about next steps. The Duval County School Board postponed its conversation because of three ongoing lawsuits it’s involved in, WJXT reports. Its current rules remain in place, the Florida Times-Union reports. • The Palm Beach County School Board held firm to its mask rules, WPTV reports. • Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna said he plans to introduce changes to the district’s approach at a meeting Tuesday, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Positive cases continued to decrease across Florida. The Escambia County school district announced it would begin allowing campus visitors and field trips again next week, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Safety and security

The state required schools to use a panic button system to help better locate and respond to campus emergencies. Many teachers are refusing to use it, the Associated Press reports.

A Duval County high school announced plans to increase random security checks of students. Officials said the move was not prompted by any specific activity, WJXT reports.

Hot topics

Teacher of the Year: This year’s choice for one Pasco County school faces discipline over falsifying students’ special education records.

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Book banning: The Brevard County school district has removed a book from a high school library over concerns about graphic adult content. The book included images of LGBTQ sexual experiences, Florida Today reports.

Enrollment growth: The Volusia County school district found the price tag of a new school has increased as the costs of materials have risen, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Employee shortages: Florida is short more than 5,000 teachers, and union officials blame a combination of pandemic issues and low pay, CNN reports. • An Osceola County School Board member has proposed partnering with the public bus system to cope with the district’s bus driver shortage, WMFE reports. • The Polk County school district has turned to a cultural exchange program to help fill its teaching vacancies, WTVT reports.

Other school news

Flagler College has a new permanent president. It’s former UNF leader John Delaney, who’s been doing the job on an interim basis, the St. Augustine Record reports.

Taylor County’s superintendent was the subject of an internal investigation before his resignation. Officials would not provide details, WCTV reports.

Some Broward County School Board members proposed permanently hiring the district’s interim superintendent. Not all of them are on board, though, the Sun-Sentinel reports. (Subscription required)

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