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Students return to Florida schools ready for a more ‘normal’ year

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Students go to class during the first day of school at the Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Wesley Chapel.
Students go to class during the first day of school at the Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Wesley Chapel. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Aug. 11|Updated Aug. 11

The big story: It’s official. School’s back for another year.

The youngest children came excited to start learning again and play with friends, TC Palm reports. District officials across the state expressed optimism that operations were returning to “normal” after two years of pandemic protocols, Florida Phoenix reports.

“Everything is moving very smoothly,” one Citrus County principal told the Citrus County Chronicle. It was, in the words of one Marion County district official, the usual “organized chaos,” the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

Still, many school districts including Brevard County continued to face employee shortages, WKMG reports.

Among other notable back-to-school stories, a Leon County elementary school serving a historic Black community celebrated starting a new year rated B for the first time in a decade, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

A Palm Beach County school in a heavily Haitian neighborhood began offering dual language instruction in Haitian Creole and English, WLRN reports.

The principal of a long-struggling Escambia County middle school said the faculty and staff remained positive as the school reopened with charter management, WUWF reports.

A Pasco County middle school evacuated as a precaution after a threat surfaced on social media. The threat turned out to be a false one from a year earlier, Bay News 9 reports.

Hot topics

Book challenges: The Polk County school district revised its library book borrowing policy to an opt-out model, after briefly deciding to have parents opt in for their children to access certain challenged titles, Lakeland Now reports.

Race lessons: An Escambia County elementary school teacher quit after a district employee allegedly removed his classroom display on Black history, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. The superintendent questioned the removal and called for an investigation. Charlie Crist blamed Ron DeSantis for the situation, Florida Politics reports.

‘Parental rights’ laws: The Seminole County school district is reviewing its policies and procedures, as teachers and parents ask questions about how new state laws will impact their schools, Spectrum 13 reports. • A Lake County mom decided to remove her daughter from public school rather than be subject to the new law, Spectrum 13 reports. • Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group, issued a report claiming the law fostered an uptick in anti-LGBTQ online commentary, the Associated Press reports.

School board politics: A DeSantis-backed candidate for Duval County School Board said Democrats are lying about her by claiming she was involved in the Jan. 6 protests in Washington D.C., Florida Politics reports.

Tax referendums: The translation of the Broward County school district’s tax referendum is inaccurate on the Spanish-version ballot, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Other school news

While most St. Johns County schools opened Wednesday, one remained conspicuously closed. Workers continued to put finishing touches on the district’s new Beachside High, the St. Augustine Record reports.

A Hillsborough County charter school serving homeless youth earned its first A grade from the state. The county’s smallest school, enrolling about 74 students, received an F four years ago, WFTS reports.

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Citrus County elementary schools will get a new tutoring program for kindergarten through third grade. The district is using federal funds to pay for the service, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

The State of Oklahoma hired a Florida company to help distribute its federal coronavirus relief funds. It’s now suing the company amid accusations of misspent money, The Oklahoman reports.

From the police blotter ... Three Columbia County teens were arrested on allegations of bringing weapons to school, WCJB reports.

From the court docket ... An Orange County parent is suing her child’s charter school, alleging her son, who is on the autism spectrum, was abused, WOFL reports.

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

Before you go ... We just missed International Cat Day, which was Monday. Here’s a cute kittens video to make up for it.

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