Florida school board race in turmoil as early voting nears

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Early voting begins in Pasco County on Oct. 26. Voters are being told their choice for School Board District 1 won't influence the outcome, as one of the candidates has been disqualified.
Early voting begins in Pasco County on Oct. 26. Voters are being told their choice for School Board District 1 won't influence the outcome, as one of the candidates has been disqualified. [ LAUREN WITTE | Times ]
Published Oct. 18, 2022

The big story: As early voting approaches, and mail in ballots begin to get returned, voters across Florida have clear choices in several school board races.

In Pasco County, the sole remaining race has become murkier.

A circuit judge deemed the leading primary vote getter, who was endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, ineligible for the general election, declaring his more liberal rival “unopposed” in November. The third place candidate from August sued to become a replacement candidate, but didn’t get that wish.

The supervisor of elections has begun sending out notes with absentee ballots telling voters their choice in this race “will not change the outcome.”

Challenges are coming to the 2nd District Court of Appeal. Read about the latest here.

Hot topics

Book challenges: The Escambia County School Board discussed ways to handle book challenges, with one member calling for a system granting the superintendent authority to veto any ban, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Hurricane aftermath: Polk County’s superintendent said schools that serve as shelters will need large generators for future emergencies, as several lost power during Hurricane Ian, the Ledger reports.

Education politics: Both candidates for Florida governor have made education a key piece of their campaigns, the News Service of Florida reports. • Candidates for Nassau County School Board are putting most of their campaign funds into signage, Florida Politics reports.

School recognition: The governor’s office announced the release of $200 million in school recognition funds based on student performance on state testing, Scripps Media reports. About 1,400 schools will get a portion, Florida Phoenix reports. Lawmakers had discussed not allowing the money to go to 12 districts that violated state masking rules during the pandemic, but Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected that part of the plan.

Taxes: State Rep. Randy Fine wants to debate Brevard County’s superintendent over the need for the school district’s property tax referendum, Florida Politics reports. Fine chaired the House K-12 appropriations subcommittee during the last session.

Grade changing scandal: A Palm Beach County high school principal and assistant principal have been placed on probation by the state after it was discovered they inappropriately changed student grades, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Parent input: The Orange County school district’s new superintendent wants to talk with parents about their views on how the system is working, WKMG reports.

From the police blotter ... A Hillsborough County middle school was struck by a stray bullet during the class day. No one was hurt.

In higher education

A majority of Americans oppose laws like Florida’s restricting university professors’ lessons. Still, about one-third of survey respondents say professors have too much freedom of speech, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Follow what’s happening in Tampa Bay schools

Follow what’s happening in Tampa Bay schools

Subscribe to our free Gradebook newsletter

We’ll break down the local and state education developments you need to know every Thursday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Florida International University trustees named their interim president to the job permanently. Ken Jessell will get a compensation package worth nearly $1 million, the Miami Herald reports. He will have a three-year contract if the state Board of Governors approves, WLRN reports.

The federal government opened its student loan relief application process. Here’s what you need to do, the Associated Press reports.

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

Before you go ... Here’s a cool map for you history and geography lovers. Maybe it will help you make sense of the world.

• • •

Sign up for the Gradebook newsletter!

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.