The big story: Florida’s new laws and rules about which books and other materials can remain in school libraries and classrooms continue to create division in communities.
The latest situation to crop up in Pinellas County has found the school district removing the Disney film “Ruby Bridges,” about a 6-year-old Black girl who integrated New Orleans schools in the 1960s. The district took the film out of circulation at one elementary school after a parent complained about its use of racial slurs and scenes depicting white adults threatening the young girl.
Prominent Black leaders in Pinellas have panned the move, and said it, along with the district’s ban of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” has raised questions about the leadership of superintendent Kevin Hendrick. Read more here.
Pinellas is not the only Tampa Bay area district dealing with parent materials challenges.
The Hillsborough County School Board has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday so it can decide the fate of “This Book Is Gay.” The nonfiction book, which is in one middle school library, offers LGBTQ youth guidance on how to live comfortably with themselves and deal with people who bully them.
It’s been called pornographic by some, who point to Chapter 9 “The Ins and Outs of Gay Sex.” which provides detailed instructions of how to do it. Board members expect to make a decision after hearing from the public.
Meanwhile, three Florida education organizations are petitioning to stop the Department of Education from requiring teachers to catalog all the reading material in their classrooms, WPTV reports. They contend the state mandate goes beyond what the law calls for.
And the mayor of Florence, Italy, has invited the former principal of Tallahassee Classical School to visit and see Michelangelo’s David sculpture in person. The mayor said she wants to personally honor Hope Carrasquilla, who lost her job over a parent complaint that the school showed a photo of the nude sculpture to young students without first getting parental permission, the Associated Press reports.
University leadership: University of Tampa president Ronald Vaughn is retiring. He’s led the school for nearly 30 years.
Teacher discipline: The Hillsborough County NAACP and members of the Wharton High community are calling for an investigation into how a teacher accused of bullying students has been able to keep his job.
Start times: A proposal to require Florida high schools to begin classes no earlier than 8:30 a.m. could have significant impact on Southwest Florida schools, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. The bill is scheduled to be heard in a Senate committee today.
Security: Lee County sheriff Carmen Marceno announced a new enforcement team to tackle school threats, WFTX reports. “If you make a threat you will be held accountable,” Marceno said.
Board politics: The Sarasota County School Board is considering whether to hire a consultant with ties to Hillsdale College to offer advice on how to operate with less political disruption, WFTS reports. • A Flagler County school principal’s pay grievance has landed him at the center of school board political wrangling, Flagler Live reports.
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Attendance zones: The Palm Beach County School Board is poised to make a final decision on redrawn high school boundaries, which have caused friction in the potentially affected communities, the Palm Beach Post reports. The Sarasota County school district is building several new schools to cope with crowding, with rezoning to follow, the Herald-Tribune reports.
Appointments: Gov. Ron DeSantis named two new members to the State Board of Education, and reappointed a third, Florida Politics reports.
Today in Tallahassee ... The House Choice and Innovation Subcommittee will take up five bills including HB 443 on charter schools when it meets at 9 a.m. • The Senate Education PreK-12 Committee will consider nine bills including SJR94 on partisan school board elections and SB 1112 on school start times when it meets at 11:30 a.m.
From the police blotter ... Two Brevard County principals were arrested in separate incidents on accusations of driving while under the influence, WESH reports.
Before you go ... March Madness has gotten really exciting. Are you cheering for the Florida Atlantic Owls too? Who doesn’t love an underdog?
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