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Florida schools react to Texas shooting, with Parkland in mind

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Iliana Calles prays at the Governor's Mansion, in Austin, Texas, during a protest organized by Moms Demand Action on Wednesday May 25, 2022, after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Iliana Calles prays at the Governor's Mansion, in Austin, Texas, during a protest organized by Moms Demand Action on Wednesday May 25, 2022, after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP) [ JAY JANNER | AP ]
Published May 26

The big story: Floridians tried to make sense of the school shooting in Texas that took the lives of at least 19 elementary students and two adults. The state has been sensitive to the the issues since the 2018 rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.

Florida has taken a variety of actions in response to Parkland, but some residents wonder whether more could be done to further improve school safety. Districts across the state have implemented several deterrents over time, WJXT reports. But some teachers still wondered how they would protect their students from a shooter, WFLA reports.

Tampa Bay area school leaders tried to reassure their communities after the Texas shooting. They, like other experts, offered recommendations about how to talk to children about such events.

Schools also took extra security steps for the end of the academic year. The Marion County school district added more security at schools and graduations, the Ocala Star Banner reports. Some South Florida parents said they worried about dropping off their children at school. WSVN reports.

Meanwhile, Gov. DeSantis received legislation that would require the State Board of Education to set more clear rules for school emergency drills, the News Service of Florida reports. And Florida’s U.S. Sen. Rick Scott pushed for consideration of his federal school safety bill, WCJB reports.

One Citrus County school had a momentary scare. A substitute teacher accidentally pressed the school’s panic alarm button, sending the campus into a lockdown, the Citrus County Chronicle reports. “We are thankful that we have security systems in place,” the principal said afterward.

As Floridians had these conversations, the sentencing of the Parkland school shooter continued, WSVN reports.

Hot topics

The Florida Department of Education released third-grade reading test scores on Wednesday. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
The Florida Department of Education released third-grade reading test scores on Wednesday. [DIRK SHADD | Times]

Test scores: Florida released third-grade state reading results. The percent achieving grade-level proficiency or better remained essentially flat, despite the children having spent much of their school career in pandemic mode.

Superintendent turnover: The Orange County School Board named three semifinalists for its top job, the Orange Observer reports.

Remote learning: Many of the applications used in Florida and other states to conduct distance learning tracked students and shared their data with big tech companies, the Miami Herald reports.

Other school news

A whistleblower has raised concerns about textbook charges to school districts. A similar problem cropped up two decades ago, WFTS reports.

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The Brevard County school district has proposed changes to its policy for renaming schools. It would include more community input, Florida Today reports.

Authorities found a vague threat on a Walton County school restroom wall. A student identified as a person of interest was sent home for the remainder of the year, WMBB reports.

Western Martin County is getting its first high school. The charter school has opened applications for its first class of students, TC Palm reports.

From the police blotter ... A Miami-Dade County teacher was arrested on accusations of having an improper relationship with a student, including sharing sexually explicit messages, WPLG reports. • A former Sarasota County high school coach was arrested on allegations of having sex with a student, the North Port Sun reports.

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

Before you go ... Norah Jones fan, you say? Can you believe it’s been 20 years since the release of “Come Away With Me”? To celebrate, the singer live-streamed a 77-minute set featuring the album plus a few extras. Enjoy.

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Every Thursday, get the latest updates on what’s happening in Tampa Bay area schools from Times education reporter Jeffrey S. Solochek. Click here to sign up.

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