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Florida education news: Bus stops, student grades, teacher tests and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Published Aug. 12, 2019

BACK TO SCHOOL: Florida children head back to classes Monday after summer break. There’s plenty new to greet them. More from the Sun-Sentinel.

BUS STOPS: Saying drivers need more deterrents to speeding past stopped school buses, a Florida lawmakers proposes doubling the penalties for the offense. Rep. Ardian Zika announced the measure just before students returned to school. “We just can’t have this,” Zika said of the dangers posed to children.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: Hillsborough County School Board members start discussing the specifics of looking for their next chief executive.

STUDENT GRADES: The Pasco County school district backs away from controversial grading requirements, saying they’re simply recommendations rather than a mandate. • The Lake County school district decides no single assignment or test may be worth more than 30 percent of a student’s grade, the Daily Commercial reports.

SCHOLARSHIPS: The Florida Department of Education approves three dozen new schools to accept tax-credit scholarships, the first to be authorized after newly implemented site visits, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

SERVICES FOR AUTISM: The Volusia County school district comes under federal scrutiny amid allegations it discriminates against children with autism, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. The number of Baker Acts on students with autism rises in Volusia County schools, the News-Journal reports.

TAX DEBATE: Duval County school district leaders are set to meet with Jacksonville City Council officials to try to hash out their dispute over whether the district can hold a sales tax referendum, the Florida Times-Union reports. • A judge is expected to rule on the Clay County school district’s right to call a sales tax referendum within two weeks, the Florida Times-Union reports.

REFEREE PAY: Lee County high school football referees say they won’t cover games after the school district refuses to pay them more, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. Miami-Dade and Broward county schools are not expected to be affected by the pay dispute, which is popping up across Florida, the Miami Herald reports.

STUDENT VACCINATIONS: A Florida member of Congress proposes legislation to make school shots mandatory for all children, Fox 26 News reports. The number of religious exemptions for vaccinations in Florida has spiked recently, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

SECURITY: Palm Beach County students have two competing apps available to report campus threats, the Palm Beach Post reports. • St. Johns County schools get new security cameras, the Florida Times-Union reports. • Miami-Dade County school buses are equipped with new GPS and other safety features, WLRN reports.

ICK: Several Brevard County schools fail their food service health inspections, the Brevard Times reports.

DATA BREACH: Personal information of thousands of Marion County students might have been accessed when a school district vendor’s systems were hacked, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

‘OVERBURDENED’: The Clay County teachers union says district counselors are overworked and unable to tend to all their responsibilities, WJAX reports.

DUAL ENROLLMENT: Numbers are up in Flagler County’s dual enrollment program, the Florida Times-Union reports.

TEACHER TESTS: New Florida law giving teachers more time to pass their certification exams allows at least 1,000 educators to keep their jobs, WFTS reports.

PAYING ATTENTION: A Florida International University researcher will study how to treat children with ADHD in the classroom, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

TEACHERS WITH GUNS: Columbia County schools indicate they have no plans to allow teachers to participate in the state “guardian” program, the Columbia County Observer reports.

STILL HIRING: Central Florida schools had about 200 teaching vacancies remaining as the first day of school approached, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • Sarasota and Manatee county schools look for better ways to keep their teachers, the Herald-Tribune reports.

TURNAROUNDS: A new principal aims to bring improvements to a struggling Leon County elementary school, Tallahassee Reports reports.

CENSORED? Marion County superintendent Heidi Maier accuses the School Board of censoring her after it cuts off her lengthy report on items board members had requested updates about, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

CONSTRUCTION FUNDS: Marion County school district officials say they don’t expect to have enough money to cover needed capital projects, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

CLIMATE SURVEY: Teachers at some Palm Beach County schools are happier than those at other schools, the Palm Beach Post reports.

IN COURT: The case of a teacher accused of inappropriate relationships with students at a private Palm Beach County school heads to trial, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

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  1. Patrick Suiters, 10, left, and Gabriel Stanford, 9, both fourth-graders at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin, fill out a survey after tasting falafel tots and nuggets during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste test at Pinellas Technical College. About 120 students tasted and rated 28 new food items that could be added to school breakfast and lunch menus next year.
  2. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
  3. The Pinellas County school system is offering driver education camps to hundreds of students like this one over the summer. The program will be held over two sessions at nine high school campuses across the county.
  4. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020.
  5. Incoming Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis (center), School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) and the other board members pose as Davis signs his contract with the district on Tuesday night. The board unanimously approved the contract beforehand.
  6. Jarvis Delon West was arrested on child neglect charges after he didn't report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police.
  7. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  8. Prekindergarten students at James B. Sanderlin IB World School in St. Petersburg, show the peace sign during an assembly in 2012. New state data show children in prekindergarten are better prepared for kindergarten than those who don't attend.
  9. Leon County fifth-grader Ingrid Hanley asks the Senate Education Committee not to adopt legislation that would get tougher on D-rated schools, during a Feb. 17, 2020, session.
  10. Nadia King, 6, is smiles for a photo. The special-needs student was taken from school Feb. 4 and placed in a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act, and now her mother and a team of attorneys are asking why.
  11. The Voluntary Prekindergarten room is one feature of the new Bardmoor Branch of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. The location also includes a child-care center and Preschool Academy.
  12. FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus. School districts continue to improve their security plans in the aftermath. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)
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