Florida mom accuses teacher of using her daughter in book ban battle

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
High school English teacher Vicki Baggett speaks to the Escambia County School Board on May 16, 2023. Baggett has filed dozens of complaints against books in the Panhandle district.
High school English teacher Vicki Baggett speaks to the Escambia County School Board on May 16, 2023. Baggett has filed dozens of complaints against books in the Panhandle district. [ YouTube ]
Published Nov. 14

The big story: Florida’s battle over school books continues to escalate in some parts of the state, with one Escambia teacher remaining at the center of the storm.

A Santa Rosa mother is accusing Escambia County teacher Vicki Baggett, who has been responsible for hundreds of book challenges, of taking advantage of her minor teenager to attack books in Santa Rosa schools.

According to the mom, Baggett convinced her daughter to check a book out of the Jay High School library that Moms for Liberty representatives later took to deputies, complaining that librarians were providing pornography to minors. “I’m very angry that my daughter was used to do someone else’s dirty work,” said the mother, who was not named. Read more from Popular Information.

As some schools are removing books from shelves to comply with their interpretation of state law, pop star Pink is pushing back. She announced that she’ll be giving fans at her South Florida shows copies of titles that have been banned, CNN reports.

Meanwhile, Florida educators are looking beyond culture wars to a more critical concern that not enough children can read at grade level, WPEC reports.

Hot topics

Vouchers: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure lifting the cap on the number of vouchers available to students with special needs, WPLG reports. About 9,000 more students are expected to benefit. Lawmakers approved the measure during a special session last week.

Vaping: Alachua County schools have increased their penalties for students vaping on campus, amid surveys showing growing use, WUFT reports. The county also is working to reduce student vaping, • Lake County school officials agreed to have a vape-sniffing dog available to search campuses, WOFL reports.

Time to go: Monroe County School Board member Andy Griffiths announced he will not seek a ninth term, Keys Weekly reports. He is one of the county’s longest serving public officials.

Teacher training: The Manatee County school district is partnering with New College of Florida to help prepare and place aspiring teachers in classrooms, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Race relations: The Lee County chapter of the NAACP said it will not file a civil rights complaint against a Charlotte County school accused of racism against students, while the school, families and civic groups seek a resolution, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

New schools: A Lake County elementary school is being rebuilt in a new location closer to the families it serves, the Daily Commercial reports. It is scheduled to open in fall 2024. • The St. Johns County school district is redrawing attendance zones for eight schools as it prepares to open two new K-8 campuses in the fall, WTLV reports.

Mental health services: More than 20,000 Palm Beach County students received mental health services from school last year, WPTV reports. Officials said it’s a sign of the times.

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Funding: The Bay County school district is encouraging families to fill out federal impact cards as a way to help the district secure all federal funding it is eligible to receive, the Panama City News Herald reports. • Some Northwest Florida school districts are seeking to get a share of BP settlement funds, WEAR reports.

Deregulation: The Florida Senate PreK-12 Education Committee released three bills encompassing 196 pages, aimed at removing several restrictions placed on public school districts, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. The committee plans to take up the measures on Wednesday.

From the police blotter ... A 13-year-old Charlotte County student was arrested on felony battery charges after being accused of attacking a classmate who touched him, WFTX reports. The victim has been placed in a medically induced coma and flown to Tampa for treatment.

From the court docket ... A federal judge has awarded more than $372,000 in legal fees to lawyers representing University of Florida professors who sued the school over being prevented from offering expert testimony in lawsuits, the News Service of Florida reports. UF had argued it should not be responsible for the fees.

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

Before you go ... Native American languages are dying out. The Navajo people have found one way to boost interest: A “Star Wars” dub!

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