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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. Florida lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at improving the outcomes of the state's prekindergarten program. Some critics suggest the proposed solutions, such as added testing, go too far.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. Victoria Arriaga, left, does a letter-matching activity during Priscilla Perez's pre-kindergarten class at West Tampa Elementary School. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    The 148-page bill would lead to a new ‘grading’ system for prekindergarten providers, so parents can better choose programs for their toddlers.
  3. Pasco County's Fivay High School has added new security measures to keep the peace on campus. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
    Parents want to see more control of the campus.
  4. Hillsborough County Chief of Schools Harrison Peters, speaking with students here at Potter Elementary School, is a the choice to become superintendent of Providence, R.I., schools. [Times file (2016)]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Harrison Peters, Chief of Schools in Hillsborough County, has landed a job as superintendent in Providence, R.I. [HCPS  |  Handout]
    Peters will become a turnaround superintendent at a troubled district.
  6. Gov. Ron DeSantis. [STEVE CANNON  |  AP]
    Florida students will read more classical literature and learn math differently, according to summary documents.
  7. Janessa Horsford, 5, says goodbye to her parents, Julytsa and Nigel Horsford, on her first day of kindergarten at Lake Magdalene Elementary School.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. Miranda Harwood, a fourth-grade math teacher at Brooker Elementary School, is the Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year. [Hillsborough County Public Schools]
    The self-described “data queen” uses humor to keep her students engaged.
  9. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    Five girls and one boy will face charges after lunchtime fights disrupted the Pasco County campus, according to the school district.
  10. State Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, presents legislation to create a new chapter of Florida law dedicated to parents' rights when dealing with government and other agencies, during a committee meeting Jan. 23, 2020. [The Florida Channel]
    Parents have been marginalized by bureaucracy, and need to be empowered in law, sponsor Rep. Erin Grall says.