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What can Florida schools teach about race?

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Signs, balloons and police tape are wrapped around a pole across from Tops Friendly Market on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. Tops, the Buffalo grocery store where 10 Black people were killed in a racist shooting rampage, was more than a place to buy groceries. As the only supermarket for miles, residents say the store was a sort of community hub where they chatted with neighbors and caught up on each other’s lives. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)
Signs, balloons and police tape are wrapped around a pole across from Tops Friendly Market on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. Tops, the Buffalo grocery store where 10 Black people were killed in a racist shooting rampage, was more than a place to buy groceries. As the only supermarket for miles, residents say the store was a sort of community hub where they chatted with neighbors and caught up on each other’s lives. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex) [ JOSHUA BESSEX | AP ]
Published May 18

The big story: Over the weekend, a gunman went on a rampage in a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store in a predominantly Black part of town. Officials there said they were looking into the matter as a racist hate crime.

Questions quickly popped up in Florida about whether public school teachers would be allowed to discuss the event, given the state’s new law on the instruction about race-related matters.

The law, which takes effect in July, requires instruction about Black history, including an understanding about the ramifications of prejudice and racism. It also permits teachers to facilitate discussions about how personal freedoms have been infringed upon by racism, sexism and other prejudices.

The law additionally states that teachers may not indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view. Critics of the law suggested that it’s vague enough to make it unclear what’s permissible and what’s not. Read more from Florida Phoenix.

Hot topics

Kevin Hendrick won unanimous School Board support to become the next Pinellas County schools superintendent.
Kevin Hendrick won unanimous School Board support to become the next Pinellas County schools superintendent. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Superintendent turnover: Longtime Pinellas County educator Kevin Hendrick won the School Board’s unanimous nod to become the district’s next leader. • Former Volusia County deputy superintendent Carmen Balgobin agreed to take the the district’s top job shortly after leaving the district, WKMG reports.

School start times: The Pasco County school district will end its unpopular 10:10 a.m. start time for three quarters of the schools that used it for the past semester. The School Board implemented the late start as a way to deal with chronic bus driver shortages. • The Sarasota County school district also is looking into bell changes because of its driver shortage, the North Port Sun reports.

Graduation season: Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians from Pinellas County’s public schools and private schools. • Bay County’s top graduates didn’t let a major hurricane or a pandemic deter them from their goals, the Panama City News Herald reports. • Seniors at two Lee County high schools might have to graduate without caps and gowns because of a shortage, WBBH reports.

Race relations: The Martin County school district will heighten security at a middle school after a photo surfaced on social media showing students on the campus spelling out racial slurs, WPTV reports. More from TC Palm.

Gender issues: A Flagler County teen who helped organize statewide protests against Florida’s law relating to instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation says he’s been banned from running for his school’s class president, Newsweek reports. • The Duval County school district will eliminate its standalone LGBTQ student support guide and incorporate portions into a larger set of student support measures, WTLV reports.

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School names: Some Titusville residents are calling for the renaming of Andrew Jackson Middle School, but many community members oppose the proposal, Florida Today reports.

Career training: The University of South Florida has joined forces with two hospitality industry companies to create paid fellowship opportunities for students.

Other school news

Members of the "Classes of 1970" in St. Petersburg pose for a group photo during a reunion on May 14, 2022, at the Club at Treasure Island. Attendees recalled being uprooted from all-Black Gibbs High during the 1969-70 school year and sent to predominantly white schools as part of a desegregation plan imposed on the Pinellas County school district.
Members of the "Classes of 1970" in St. Petersburg pose for a group photo during a reunion on May 14, 2022, at the Club at Treasure Island. Attendees recalled being uprooted from all-Black Gibbs High during the 1969-70 school year and sent to predominantly white schools as part of a desegregation plan imposed on the Pinellas County school district. [ HANNAH CRITCHFIELD | Times ]

Pinellas County’s final segregated class of Black students prepared to graduate together 53 years ago. Integration split them up, but the classmates stayed close, and they recently celebrated a special reunion.

It’s award time in Florida education. Broward County fourth grade teacher Seema Naik was named the first of five finalists for Florida 2003 teacher of the year, WSVN reports.

Flagler County’s school teacher and employee union has suspended contract negotiations over allegations of bad faith bargaining. It made the move after the School Board rejected an insurance rebate proposal that both sides had agreed to at the table, Flagler Live reports.

The Polk County school district nearly closed an aging elementary school over infrastructure concerns. Instead, the school is celebrating its 111th anniversary, the Ledger reports.

Manatee County schools will stop providing universal free meals in the fall. The federal funding for the program has ended, WWSB reports.

‘We trusted him.’ A former student who belonged to a secret society run by her school’s band director shares her experiences, the Daily Commercial reports.

The Osceola County School Board has asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to sanction one of its members. Board members accused colleague Jon Arguello of harassing a vendor because of political disagreements, WFTV reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

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