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Florida school boards seek to impose more order during public comments

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
 
Renee Chiea, standing at the lectern, speaks to the Pinellas County School Board in July.
Renee Chiea, standing at the lectern, speaks to the Pinellas County School Board in July. [ Pinellas County Schools ]
Published March 25, 2022

The big story: As angry residents have come to berate school boards over issues such as masks and books, boards have attempted to take back their meetings by changing their public comment rules.

Some have shortened the time available for people to speak. Others have imposed stricter sign-up deadlines.

In Pinellas County, board members discussed such possibilities. They opted for a change that largely aligns its policy with state law on giving people a voice while still conducting an orderly meeting. They also stopped livestreaming the input on items that don’t appear on the action agenda, a procedure that’s not part of the policy.

A handful of the most vocal critics were not happy. Read about it here.

Hot topics

A Clockwork Orange, The Bluest Eye and The Awakening are three of several books conservative groups have tried to get removed from Florida public schools as containing pornographic material.
A Clockwork Orange, The Bluest Eye and The Awakening are three of several books conservative groups have tried to get removed from Florida public schools as containing pornographic material. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]

Book bans: Moms for Liberty has called on the Brevard County school district to remove 19 books from schools, calling them pornographic, WOFL reports. • The Flagler County school district’s new policy on library book borrowing is gaining attention across Florida, as more districts face challenges, Flagler Live reports.

Race relations: The St. Petersburg chapter of the NAACP is seeking action related to reports of racist activity at a local private high school, Bay News 9 reports.

Gender lessons: Two Flagler County School Board members expressed dismay over students leaving classes to protest legislation regarding gender lessons at schools, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. Two others supported the students’ right to speak out. • Teachers across the nation are raising concerns about the potential impact of the legislation, CBS News reports.

Teacher shortages: The Santa Rosa County school district is trying to start early in hiring for next fall, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Gun violence: The Duval County school district is reminding parents to take care with weapons at home, to avoid accidental shootings, WJXT reports.

Pandemic protocols: Martin County schools have returned to operating as they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, WPTV reports.

Other school news

The University of South Florida unveiled its new campus career center. Its goal is to help thousands of students get jobs more quickly. Its programs will be woven into curriculum.

Celebrity chef Guy Fieri dropped in to visit a Palm Beach County high school’s culinary students. He gave a $20,000 donation to the program, the Palm Beach Post reports.

The Lee County school district faces allegations of employees spying on the public through social media. One employee has filed a whistleblower complaint offering details, WINK reports.

From the police blotter ... A teacher at a Hillsborough County private school was arrested on allegations of inappropriately touching a student and showing them pornography. • A Brevard County middle school teacher was arrested on allegations of sending harmful material to minor, WKMG reports.

From the court docket ... The former operator of a Broward County charter school was found guilty on charges of theft and fraud involving school federal funds, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reports. • A St. Johns County private school teacher pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to entice a minor for sexual activity, WJXT reports.

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

Before you go ... The idea of toy instruments for heavy metal is just so intriguing.

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