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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]
Published Aug. 13

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. Chanell Newell, a reading teacher at Woodson K-8 School, is a finalist for Hillsborough Teacher of the Year. HCPS  |  HCPS
    The winners will be announced on Jan. 23.
  2. A school bus travels the early morning streets of Pasco County on the way to the first day of classes in 2017.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Transgender student Drew Adams speaks with reporters outside of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Adam's fight over school restrooms came before a federal appeals court Thursday, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High in Ponte Vedra, Fla., won a lower court ruling last year ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. The district has since appealed. RON HARRIS  |  AP
    The closely watched case of Drew Adams, once a high school student in Florida, is heard by a three-judge panel in Atlanta.
  4. Representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco, on the left, present their latest pay request to the district's bargaining team during talks on Oct. 24, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Teachers have yet to reach a deal on their contract.
  5. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. It has met just once more since then. The Florida Channel
    Lawmakers have yet to set an aggressive agenda beyond talk of teacher pay as the 2020 legislative session nears.
  6. FILE - In a Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 file photo, transgender teen Drew Adams, left, leaves the U. S. Courthouse with his mother Erica Adams Kasper after the first day of his trial about bathroom rights at Nease High School, in Jacksonville, Fla. The transgender student's fight over school bathrooms comes before a federal appeals court Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Drew Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, won a lower court ruling in 2018 ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP, File) WILL DICKEY  |  AP
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. A bird's-eye view of USF St. Petersburg, which this week announced a new member of the Campus Board. She is Melissa Seixas, a Duke Energy executive who earned her master's degree at USF.
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  8. An LGBTQ Pride march participant walks under a large rainbow flag in New York earlier this year. School Board policy regarding LGBTQ students has been a frequent topic of discussion in recent months in Pasco County. CRAIG RUTTLE  |  AP
    The discourse is more civil and respectful, two weeks after a session that many deemed hate-filled and vile.
  9. The Florida Legislature so far has has left Gov. Ron DeSantis to set most education policy priorities for 2020.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. "Miss Virginia," a film about school choice, will be screened at the Tampa Theatre on Dec. 10.
    “Miss Virginia” will be playing at the Tampa Theater on Tuesday.