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Sex education challenge falls short in Florida school district

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
 
Juan Ortega speaks to Claudia Isom, an independent hearing officer, about sex education concerns at the Hillsborough County school district headquarters on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, in Tampa. The School Board upheld Isom's recommendation to leave the district's lessons intact despite complaints.
Juan Ortega speaks to Claudia Isom, an independent hearing officer, about sex education concerns at the Hillsborough County school district headquarters on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, in Tampa. The School Board upheld Isom's recommendation to leave the district's lessons intact despite complaints. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Jan. 13, 2023

The big story: As conservative groups take on lessons in schools, one of the areas they’ve focused on is sex education.

Some critics have argued that the subject has no place in classrooms, contending it’s better left to parents at home. They object to what they consider graphic images, implications that pre-teens can consent to sex, and the notion that gender confusion might arise from instruction.

The Hillsborough County school district received thousands of petitions demanding a review and removal of its sex education materials for seventh- through ninth-grades. After hearing from the public several times, and receiving a recommendation from an independent hearing officer, the School Board decided to leave its program in place. Read more here.

Hot topics

Online access: The University of Florida is advising students to delete the TikTok app and stop using it. • The Volusia County School Board committed $2 million to expand broadband service to under-served areas of the county, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

School security: The Palm Beach County school district is considering participation in the state school guardian program by allowing certain trained employees to carry guns, WPTV reports.

Superintendents: Manatee County School Board members don’t agree on whether to conduct a national or statewide search for their next superintendent, who will replace retiring Cynthia Saunders, Longboat Observer reports. • Collier County residents have begun offering their views on the qualities their next superintendent should have, WFTX reports.

Teacher shortage: The Florida Education Association’s latest count of teacher and staff vacancies at public schools indicates the situation is worsening, WFTV reports. State education officials said the union report is misleading. • Data show more than half of the nation’s school districts face teacher shortages, UPI reports.

Testing: Florida’s second window for FAST testing runs through the end of the month. TC Palm provides answers to frequently asked questions about the new testing system.

Vouchers: Palm Beach County school district officials told members of their legislative delegation that state voucher programs are hurting the public school system, Florida Politics reports.

Other school news

The Alachua County school district owns a summer camp. School Board members are discussing ways to run the camp more efficiently, amid controversy over its management, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Police are looking for a Manatee County elementary teacher who is missing. He hasn’t been seen in several days, WWSB reports.

Orange County school district officials are hearing complaints about student discipline problems. They’re creating a task force to seek solutions, WKMG reports.

The Bay County school district is offering a new free tutoring program for middle and high schools. It’s primarily aimed at homework help for struggling students, WMBB reports.

The Jackson County School Board is considering whether to close an aging elementary school and merge it with a nearby middle school. Some parents have reservations about the proposal, WJHG reports.

The Escambia County School Board continues to explore options for long struggling Warrington Middle School. It has been trying to establish a connection with Charter Schools USA, but nothing is settled yet, WEAR reports.

From the court docket ... It was Day 4 of testimony on the challenge to Florida’s “intellectual freedom” law, Florida Phoenix reports.

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

Before you go ... RIP, Jeff Beck.

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