DeSantis doubles down on parent rights in Florida schools

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
People attend a regular meeting of the Pinellas County school board on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, at the school district headquarters in Largo. Gov. Ron DeSantis says he will defend Floridians' right to speak at board meetings and fight any federal plans to curtail that right.
People attend a regular meeting of the Pinellas County school board on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, at the school district headquarters in Largo. Gov. Ron DeSantis says he will defend Floridians' right to speak at board meetings and fight any federal plans to curtail that right. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2021) ]
Published Oct. 21, 2021

Many Floridians have criticized the federal government for its plans to look into threats and harassment against school board members, saying it appears an intrusion into parents’ First Amendment rights. Gov. Ron DeSantis has taken advantage of the situation, stressing his support of parents above all others. He doubled down again on Wednesday. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

DeSantis announced his administration would work to “fortify” parent rights during the upcoming legislative session. Many school board members across the state said they support parents who come to speak, adding that local law enforcement can handle any problems that arise without the need for federal intervention.

Many parents have been complaining about masks in schools. Today, six Florida school districts will continue their challenge against the state’s emergency rule on that subject. An administrative law judge refused to dismiss the case, saying the districts had standing to bring the complaint, the News Service of Florida reports. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

District leadership

The Pasco County School Board will have different district boundaries than county commissioners for the first time in 30 years. The board chose to act independently after the commission approved maps that would draw a board member out of her district, contrary to state law. • The Alachua County School Board is considering two different maps for its member district realignment, the Gainesville Sun reports.

The Palm Beach County school district has called off its national superintendent search. The School Board swore in its interim leader, Michael Burke, to the permanent job on Wednesday, the Palm Beach Post reports.

State Board decisions

What is an ‘upright and desirable’ citizen? Florida schoolchildren are to learn about that, and other aspects of patriotism, under new civic education rules adopted by the State Board of Education, the News Service of Florida reports. More from the Orlando Sentinel.

Play ball! The State Board of Education also amended a rule to allow state colleges to field football teams, the News Service of Florida reports.

The Leon County school district rejected a charter school applicant over budget and safety concerns. The State Board overruled the objections and decided the charter school may open, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Other school news

The Miami-Dade County School Board designated October as LGBTQ History Month in its schools. One board member opposed the resolution, saying highlighting this aspect of history “creates an imposition on certain values that some may not be comfortable with,” the Miami Herald reports.

The St. Johns County school district is building a new high school to cope with crowding. It almost has a name, the St. Augustine Record reports.

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From the police blotter ... A Bay County extended time out teacher was arrested on accusations that he broke a student’s arm, the Panama City News Herald reports.

From the court docket ... The shooter of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High massacre pleaded guilty to all counts of murder and attempted murder against him, the Associated Press reports. • State Board of Education chairperson Tom Grady was indicted on federal charges over excavating property in waters near the Florida Keys, a misdemeanor that could result in a year in prison, Florida Politics reports. More from the Naples Daily News. • A Leon County family is suing the school district, claiming officials did not provide information to the parents about their child’s gender confusion, Tallahassee Reports reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... An administrative law judge is scheduled to begin a two-day hearing on six school districts’ challenge of the Department of Health’s emergency rule on masking and quarantines at 9 a.m. • The House Post-Secondary Education subcommittee meets at 9 a.m. to review student codes of conduct. • The House Higher Education Appropriations subcommittee meets at 11 a.m. to hear a presentation on EASE grants.

Don’t miss a story. Take another look at yesterday’s roundup if you’d like.

Before you go ... Are you part of the Squid Game obsession? These YouTubers are, and they’ve decided to try to bring the Netflix show to life. Don’t worry. No one dies.

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