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Is Florida’s law on pronoun use unconstitutional? It’s now in court.

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
 
A Florida Virtual School physics teacher who identifies as non-binary was fired last month for using a gender-neutral courtesy title in class materials, which the school said violated a new Florida law that prohibits teachers from sharing "personal titles and pronouns" that do not correspond to their sex.
A Florida Virtual School physics teacher who identifies as non-binary was fired last month for using a gender-neutral courtesy title in class materials, which the school said violated a new Florida law that prohibits teachers from sharing "personal titles and pronouns" that do not correspond to their sex. [ DREAMSTIME | Dreamstime ]
Published Dec. 14, 2023|Updated Dec. 14, 2023

The big story: Florida’s law barring teachers from using personal pronouns and titles that don’t match their sex at birth faced plenty of criticism even before it came into effect.

Now three teachers from Hillsborough, Lee and Orange counties are challenging the rule in federal court. They say it’s unconstitutional.

According to the lawsuit, it has “pushed one plaintiff out of their teaching career and threatens to do the same for the other plaintiffs — and for the other transgender and nonbinary teachers like them across Florida.” Read more from the Orlando Sentinel. Here’s a link to the full complaint.

Hot topics

Vouchers: After weeks of complaints from parents over delayed payments, Florida lawmakers examined how implementation of the state’s voucher expansion is going — and what if anything they might do to improve the model. • New purchasing guidelines for using voucher funds are due to be complete by the end of December, Florida Phoenix reports. • State officials are looking into bringing more scholarship funding organizations to Florida, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Teacher shortage: An Orange County school has turned to international teachers to fill its special education vacancies, WMFE reports. • Gov. Ron DeSantis is putting $5 million into a program aimed at helping people with associate’s degrees become teachers through an apprenticeship program, Florida Politics reports.

School grades: Hillsborough County school district officials lamented that they had too many D and F schools. • Polk County district officials pointed to successes in the accountability system despite what they saw as barriers, the Ledger reports. • Palm Beach County superintendent Mike Burke said it’s “all hands on deck” as the district will work to rebound from its decline in 2023 to a B grade, WPTV reports.

President searches: Florida Polytechnic University joins the ranks of state universities seeking new leadership, as its trustees approved criteria for a president search.

New schools: The Lake County school district broke ground on a new K-8 school aimed at easing crowding in the Minneola area, Spectrum 13 reports.

Community schools: A third Escambia County school will adopt the community partnership model this year, expanding the concept in a feeder pattern to provide service for children in kindergarten through high school, WEAR reports.

Campus safety: Students at seven Orange County high schools will have to go through weapons detection devices to attend classes, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • The Volusia County school district hired seven new deputies to serve as middle school resource officers, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

Board politics: Flagler County School Board member Cheryl Massaro said she would serve only one term. She’s seeking a second, saying the specter of a board filled with rookie members “scares me tremendously,” Flagler Live reports.

Attendance zones: The number of Volusia County students who might be reassigned to different schools is growing as the school district considers new attendance maps, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

From the court docket ... A Marion County woman pleaded guilty to stealing more than $600,000 from an alternative school, WKMG reports.

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

Before you go ... What? Po isn’t going to be the Dragon Warrior any more?

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Spotlight on education

The public is invited to a community conversation about the future of Florida public schools on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the Tampa Theatre, hosted by the Tampa Bay Times. In the second installment of the Spotlight Tampa Bay series, Times journalists will moderate a discussion by experts, followed by a panel featuring students. Tickets are $20; $10 for students. Proceeds benefit the Times’ Journalism Fund. To purchase tickets, click here.