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Some Florida teachers fight back when COVID sick leave runs out

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Representatives from the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association and the school district administration negotiated agreements preventing employees from dipping into personal leave when quarantined because of COVID-19. They ran into problems when the deal expired, and the district continued to send teachers home after positive test results.
Representatives from the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association and the school district administration negotiated agreements preventing employees from dipping into personal leave when quarantined because of COVID-19. They ran into problems when the deal expired, and the district continued to send teachers home after positive test results. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times ]
Published Jun. 15

The big story: School districts across Florida took steps throughout the coronavirus pandemic to protect employees from having to take unpaid days off because of quarantines.

Officials said it was the right thing to do.

During the spring, though, some of those agreements expired. And educators who tested positive, but didn’t have personal leave time available, found themselves sitting at home unpaid.

The Pinellas County school district’s employee unions are fighting back. “Nothing in the contract allows you to send someone home from work on unpaid leave without due process,” union executive director Lindsay Blankenbaker said. Read more here.

Hot topics

Teachers wanted: The Escambia County school district has hit a new high for teaching vacancies, the Pensacola News Journal reports. • The Hillsborough County district has more than 1,500 job openings, including about 800 teaching spots, WUSF reports.

Gender lessons: The Palm Beach County School Board is poised to adopt a new policy outlining how parents can bring complaints if they have concerns about what their children are being taught, in accordance with new state law, WPTV reports.

Race lessons: Florida is at the forefront of a national debate over what schools may teach about race in society, USA Today reports. • Schools in Florida and across the nation might end up teaching different versions of U.S. history, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

School safety: The city of Cape Coral announced plans to build 15 miles of new sidewalks near schools so children can walk to campus more safely, WINK reports. • The Volusia County school district has backed away from a proposal to let principals randomly search anyone on campus, amid questions of the idea’s constitutionality, WFTV reports.

Community services: The Bay County school district is partnering with several social service agencies to create a community school at Parker Elementary, WJHG reports.

Other school news

The Polk County school district is looking into changes in its hiring practices. The proposals come after the hiring of a teacher with a past arrest on allegations of sexual battery against a minor, Lakeland Now reports.

Construction has begun on the first high school in Indiantown in Martin County. The closest high school to the village has been 20 miles away, WPTV reports.

An Osceola County charter school has surrendered its charter. It was unable to find a new home after its lease ran out, the Osceola News-Gazette reports.

Broward County’s superintendent announced an administrative shakeup. Some in the community accused her of racism in the moves, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

An Okaloosa County School Board incumbent member has decided to seek reelection after initially announcing she would not. The move is generating questions about political machinations, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

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A former Flagler County school bus driver accused of driving students while intoxicated showed up for his court hearing. Officials said he appeared to be drunk there, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

A Duval County assistant principal was suspended 15 days after hitting a student and grabbing another while trying to break up a fight. The grandparent of one involved student says the discipline is not enough, WJAX reports.

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

Before you go ... It’s just time for a cute dog video.

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