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Florida school security remains a work in progress 3 years after Parkland

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
People attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018.
People attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018. [ GERALD HERBERT | AP ]
Published Oct. 22

As the end of October approaches, school districts across Florida are taking time to review their safety and security measures — what they’ve done, what still needs to be done and why. The annual process is part of a requirement put in place after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Broward County, as it became clear schools were not as prepared for such emergencies as they should be. Some experts say they’re still not. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

It’s been 3-1/2 years since the Parkland school massacre. Security improvements at Florida schools remain a work in progress.

The job isn’t easy. Half of the Duval County school district’s police force resigned in 2021, WJXT reports.

Mask mandates

An administrative law judge began hearing arguments in the challenge of Florida’s ban on school mask mandates without opt-out clauses. At question is whether the state exceeded its authority in issuing its emergency rule, WPTV reports. More from the News Service of Florida, Orlando Sentinel. The hearing continues today.

Some of the districts bringing the suit are considering relaxing their rules. Much depends on the continued downward trajectory of positive virus cases, the Associated Press reports.

A Miami-Dade County private school that banned masks and told vaccinated students to stay home for 30 days is under state investigation. The school stands to lose state scholarship funds if it’s found to have violated parents’ right to make health decisions for their children, the Daily Beast reports.

A state senator wants to codify into law a ban on strict school mask mandates. Keith Perry represents Alachua County, which has been at the epicenter of the fight over school masks, Florida Politics reports.

Hiring woes

The Marion County school district is struggling to find bus drivers. It has turned to a hiring company to help fill vacancies, WKMG reports.

Seminole County schools have dozens of driver vacancies, too. The district and union are negotiating driver pay raises to help attract applicants, WFTV reports.

The St. Johns County school district is offering bus drivers signing bonuses. It’s $3,000 for those who have a commercial drivers license, and $1,000 for those who don’t, the St. Augustine Record reports.

School counselors also are in short supply. The Alachua County school district can’t find enough counselors to staff every campus, leaving some students without supports they might need, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Other school news

The Santa Rosa County school district is updating its strategic plans. It wants public feedback as it progresses, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Palm Beach County’s new superintendent is the district’s 27th. Here’s some history on who has held the job, the Palm Beach Post reports.

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Switching out schools’ diesel buses once seemed out of reach. It’s now becoming a reality in Miami-Dade County and other Florida districts, the Associated Press reports.

No vaping allowed. The Santa Rosa County school district is looking into installing vape detection devices amid complaints of increased vaping on campuses, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

From the police blotter ... A Hillsborough County teen was arrested on accusations of making a “hit list” of students and teachers at her charter school, WFLA reports. • A Broward County teen was arrested on allegations of making a threat of violence against his school on social media, WSVN reports. • A former Manatee County school employee was arrested on allegations of stealing student aid money, the Bradenton Herald reports.

From the court docket ... A Hillsborough County mom who withdrew her children from the public schools over their mask rules is suing the district to allow them to play sports at their former schools, Florida Politics reports.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s a link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... It’s almost time for trick or treating. And Halloween movies! Here’s a favorite scene for you to enjoy.

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