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Florida school district seeks alternative to bans for challenged books

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Florida school libraries face a growing number of book challenges from their communities. Some districts are seeking solutions that allow parental choices without removing titles from circulation. LENORA LAKE | Special to the Times
Florida school libraries face a growing number of book challenges from their communities. Some districts are seeking solutions that allow parental choices without removing titles from circulation. LENORA LAKE | Special to the Times
Published May 23

The big story: School districts across Florida have faced rising numbers of challenges to the books on their shelves. Several have removed titles while taking a closer look at what’s inside.

Some officials have pushed back against the idea of letting one group of parents (or other Floridians) make decisions about which books other parents’ children may read. They’ve taken steps such as placing contentious items behind the counter, where students must bring a permission slip to gain access.

The Pasco County school system is the latest to consider a process that allows for individual choice for every family. Superintendent Kurt Browning says he hopes to have something in place for the next semester. Read more here.

Hot topics

Graduates throw their caps in the air during graduation ceremonies for the St. Petersburg High School senior class of 2021/2022 at Tropicana Field,  Friday, May 20, 2022 in St. Petersburg.
Graduates throw their caps in the air during graduation ceremonies for the St. Petersburg High School senior class of 2021/2022 at Tropicana Field, Friday, May 20, 2022 in St. Petersburg. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]

Graduation season: Meet Pasco County’s valedictorians and salutatorians. • Some Sarasota and Manatee county high schools had to change their graduation times because of bad weather, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Some parents at a Lake County high school argued their children should get a new graduation ceremony after a downpour interrupted the event, WKMG reports. • Zander Moricz had been told not to talk about his LGBTQ activism during his graduation speech at Sarasota County’s Pine View School. He found a different way to get his message across, WWSB reports.

Climate change: The Miami-Dade County school district plans to hire a sustainability officer to help it switch to 100% clean energy, WLRN reports.

Classroom culture wars: As states including Florida adopt stricter laws on the instruction of issues such as gender and race, many teachers are finding it difficult to follow the rules, Hechinger reports.

Superintendent turnover: Applications have begun to trickle in for the Orange County school district superintendent’s job, WKMG reports. • Brevard County’s charter review commission has proposed making the school district superintendent position an elected job, Florida Today reports.

Textbooks: The Lee County school district disputed a whistleblower’s allegations that it overpaid for textbooks, Business Observer reports. • The Citrus County school district changed its math textbook selection after the state rejected the district’s first choice, the Citrus County Chronicle reports. • The Brevard County school district averted a purchasing problem as its math textbook selections, initially on the state rejection list, now have been approved, Florida Today reports.

Teacher, employee pay: The Early Learning Coalition of Flagler and Volusia Counties is offering incentives to attract early education teachers, WKMG reports. • The Polk County school district will increase its minimum wage to $15 on July 1, WFTS reports.

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Other school news

Six Pasco County elementary schools are getting new principals. Retirements and transfers are fueling the changes.

Why would a Lee County principal sleep on his school’s roof? He lost a bet with his students, that’s why, WPLG reports.

A Monroe County high school was nearly empty after threats of violence circulated in the community. Another round of threats surfaced a week later, Florida Keys Weekly reports.

Marion County schools expect an influx of thousands of additional students as housing developments rise. The district doesn’t have enough seats to accommodate them, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

A Miami-Dade County high school is cutting its nationally recognized dance program. Students and families are fighting the move, WTVJ reports.

From the police blotter ... A Miami-Dade County private school bus driver was arrested on accusations of lewd and lascivious conduct against a minor student, the Miami Herald reports. • A Gilchrist County teacher was arrested on six criminal sexual felony counts, Main Street Daily News reports.

Before you go ... Making your way through Japan without Japanese can be a tough go. The Road to Japan blog shared this entertaining song that might just help.

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