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Florida education news: Board powers, first day of classes, testing cuts and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
The Freedom High School color guard opened the Florida Board of Education meeting May 22, 2019, at Mort Elementary in Tampa. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
The Freedom High School color guard opened the Florida Board of Education meeting May 22, 2019, at Mort Elementary in Tampa. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published Aug. 13, 2019

GETTING TOUGH: Under the leadership of new commissioner Richard Corcoran, the Florida Board of Education looks to use its authority in ways it hadn’t in the past. Its latest move: A proposed rule to have school districts prove they are providing lessons required in law.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Student numbers continue to surge in growing Tampa Bay area school districts. • Students and teachers at Hillsborough County’s most struggling schools kick off the new year with high expectations. More on students’ return from the Ledger, Daily Commercial, Citrus County Chronicle, Gainesville Sun, Palm Beach Post, Florida Times-Union, Florida Today, Fort Myers News-Press, Herald-Tribune

LESS TESTING: Pasco County elementary school students get some testing relief, as the school district announces plans to cut back several year-end exams.

LABOR NEWS: A Leon County judge rules constitutional Florida’s law requiring teacher unions to recertify if membership falls below 50 percent of eligible participants, the News Service of Florida reports. The Florida Education Association had challenged the measure, saying it violated collective bargaining rights.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: The Pasco County school district asks the Plato Academy charter school group to demonstrate its financial viability after learning the group owed nearly $325,000 in back rent. • The Florida state director for Charter Schools USA discusses the state’s charter school growth, WPBF reports.

NEXT STEPS FOR USF: The new University of South Florida president offers his views on where he sees the school headed on campus consolidation, funding, and other key issues.

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION MOVE: A Democratic state lawmaker proposes legislation to forbid private schools from barring any group of students if the schools wish to receive state voucher or scholarship funds, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

DUAL ENROLLMENT: The number of Sarasota County students in dual enrollment courses drops off as the new provider, USF Sarasota-Manatee, implements tougher standards, the Herald-Tribune reports.

CAMPUS POLICE: The Broward County sheriff offers to take over security at all district schools, at a cost of $180 million per year, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • The Palm Beach County school district hires 100 additional police officers, with a goal of doubling the size of its force, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Student safety remains key for Charlotte County schools and the officers serving them, the Charlotte Sun reports.

HOT TIMES: The air conditioning fails at five Brevard County schools as students return during a hear wave, Florida Today reports.

NEW BOOKS: Volusia County schools get new textbooks for the first time in five years, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. They had been working with digital resources previously.

REZONING ANGER: A Palm Beach County mother is arrested on allegations she threatened to shoot up her children’s school because she was upset they were rezoned there, the Associated Press reports.

GUNS ON CAMPUS: A central Florida lawmaker filed a bill to allow concealed carry of weapons on the state’s college campuses, WINK reports. Similar legislation did not pass in the 2019 session.

GETTING THERE: Several Leon County parents remain unhappy and confused by changes to the district’s school bus routes, WTXL reports. Problems included stranded students, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

REFEREE PAY DISPUTE: The FHSAA decertifies the referee association serving Lee County high schools, putting the football season in further doubt, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

TEACHER REMOVED: A Brevard County teacher has his certification suspended over accusations that he tried to smoke with a students, communicate with students via social media at inappropriate times, and spoke of demonic energy coming from the school restroom, WKMG reports.

COMING UP: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission will receive updates Wednesday on school district compliance with state laws, the News Service of Florida reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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)
  11. Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis (wearing a pink tie), center, takes photos with the  Hillsborough County Public Schools board members after being voted unaminous as the new incoming superintendent in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
  12. University of Florida students walk through Turlington Plaza in between classes on Thursday afternoon, February 13, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla.