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LGBTQ issues take center stage in Florida education policy debate

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Gov. Ron DeSantis displays the signed Parental Rights in Education flanked by elementary school students during a news conference on Monday, March 28, 2022, at Classical Preparatory school in Shady Hills.
Gov. Ron DeSantis displays the signed Parental Rights in Education flanked by elementary school students during a news conference on Monday, March 28, 2022, at Classical Preparatory school in Shady Hills. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Sep. 15

The big story: Across Florida, the issue of LGBTQ student and staff rights in the public schools increasingly has risen to the surface as conservative lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis have focused attention on the issue.

In Pasco County, the matter has occupied the School Board for much of the past four years — even before the “parental rights in education” law came into being.

The latest dispute has centered on whether the district may keep ‘safe space’ stickers in classrooms and other parts of campus. But it’s also popped up in other forms. Read the latest here.

The State Board of Education has made clear its stance on LGBTQ rights in schools. It issued its newest directive on the subject, including rules for overnight field trips, Florida Phoenix reports.

The Miami Beach City Commission urged Miami-Dade County school principals to ignore the School Board’s rejection of a resolution supporting LGBTQ History Month, Florida Politics reports.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade district officials explained their decision to prevent students from attending a performance of a Pulitzer-winning play by a gay playwright, the Miami Herald reports. Students have attended past productions of the show in the past. Superintendent Jose Dotres told the Herald the decision had nothing to do with the author’s sexuality.

Hot topics

Leadership: Hillsborough County superintendent Addison Davis has won the support of his School Board in the face of ongoing controversy, as evidenced by his latest performance reviews. • The Board of Governors has a new chancellor in former state Sen. Ray Rodrigues, an ally of Gov. DeSantis, the News Service of Florida reports.

Budgets: The Pinellas County School Board approved a $1.8 billion budget, as employees called for more money to go into salaries. • The Sarasota County School Board adopted a $1.4 billion budget, with two members opposed to the new tax rate, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Teacher shortfalls: Many Florida teachers have grown disenchanted with their profession amid politically driven changes, Yahoo! News reports. • Clay and St. Johns schools have seen an increase in teacher vacancies since the start of the new academic year, WJXT reports. • The Palm Beach County district’s shortfall has been compounded by a backlog of paper processing in the human resources department, WPTV reports.

Employee pay: The Hernando County school district boosted its substitute teacher pay rate, WFTS reports.

Other school news

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee historically has been a commuter campus. It’s about to get its first student housing, the Bradenton Herald reports.

About 100,000 people speak Creole in Palm Beach County. The school district has debuted one of the nation’s only dual-language immersion programs in Creole this year, the Palm Beach Post reports.

A case of monkeypox was reported at an Orange County school. The affected person has not been on campus since Sept. 7, WKMG reports.

Florida Memorial University is experiencing a turnaround. South Florida’s only historically Black university reported its largest freshman class in 15 years, the Miami Herald reports.

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From the court docket ... The defense abruptly rested its case in the sentencing phase of the Parkland school shooter, the Associated Press reports. • The former owner of a South Florida daycare center was sentenced to prison for fraud against the state tax credit scholarship program, reimaginED reports.

Happening today ... The State Board of Education has scheduled a 10 a.m. conference call to discuss the recently released findings of a statewide grand jury on school safety issues. Dial in Number: 1-800-496-4034 Code: 797680

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

Before you go ... It’s been nearly 30 years since the Sanderson sisters cast a spell on us in Hocus Pocus. Now there’s a sequel coming just in time for Halloween. Wonder if it will be a trick, or a treat.

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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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