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Florida education news: Principals under fire, YouTubers lament, school safety criticisms and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Glennis Perez was a former principal at Spoto High in Hillsborough County. In 2019, she was removed from the school and designated an "administrator on special assignment" while the school district conducted an investigation of her. Details of the investigation were scathing.
Published Aug. 16

PRINCIPAL PROBLEMS: An investigation into the former principal of Hillsborough County’s Spoto High School states she took several steps to drive away students not considered likely to graduate in order to make the school look better. She’s also accused of having employees falsify records about why the students left. • In Volusia County, an investigation into the former principal of Mainland High indicates she gave several athletes an A grade for a course that didn’t exist, among other violations, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

DON’T DO IT: Popular YouTubers Sam and Brock, and the Ireland Brothers, post a new video explaining why it was a bad idea to break into Hillsborough County’s Lee Elementary School after it had been closed because of fire.

SECURITY: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission continued its criticisms of schools and leaders for not completely following state security laws. Broward superintendent Robert Runcie again took hits, this time because several charter schools in the county did not have full-time armed guards. (Districts sponsor charter schools, but do not run their daily operations.) More from Associated Press. • The commission also complained that the state’s new data collection and sharing portal wasn’t good enough, WLRN reports. More from the Sun-Sentinel.

NEW RULES: A public workshop to discuss a proposed rule governing how school districts must report their adherence to Florida’s required instruction law draws little interest.

NO TIME: A man accused of pointing a gun at a student in the parking lot of Hernando High School will serve no jail time after pleading no contest.

THREATS: The laundry list of people making mostly false threats against schools grew as the new academic year neared the end of its first week. Among them were a hoax bomb threat at Miami Northwestern High (WSVN), threats of violence against students at Pembroke Pines Charter High (WSVN), a threat to shoot up Inverness Primary in Citrus County (Fox 13), a threat to shoot up Interlachen High in Putnam County (WJAX), and a series of hoax threats against at least five Palm Beach County schools (WPTV). • One real one: A Duval County teen is arrested after allegedly pointing a gun at a school bus, the Florida Times-Union reports.

TEACHER TRANSFERS: Poor state evaluation results cause several Polk County teachers to be involuntarily transferred to different schools, two days into the new academic year, the Ledger reports. Florida law says teachers must have three years of “effective” or “highly effective” VAM scores to teach at schools in turnaround status.

REFEREES: High school football in Lee County remains shut down as referees continue to push for better pay, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

‘CHILDREN ARE PROTECTED’: Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran defends the governor’s removal of Okaloosa County superintendent Mary Beth Jackson and suggests students are now safer with her gone, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

HOT TIMES: The air conditioning breaks down at Clay County’s Oakleaf Village Elementary, causing school to close for the day, First Coast News reports. Some parents complain that the decision to close wasn’t made sooner. More from Clay Today.

HOME SCHOOLING: Some Jefferson County families explain why they decided to educate their children at home, ECB Publishing reports.

OFFICE SPACE: The Marion County school district eyes 20 acres of vacant land for new administrative offices, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

NAMING RIGHTS: The Palm Beach County school district offers to sell the naming rights to high school football stadiums for about $150,000 a year each, the Palm Beach Post reports.

CHARTER BATTLE: The Manatee County school district denies accusations that it fired qualified teachers to hire unqualified ones at a charter school it recently took over, the Herald-Tribune reports.

NO TO PRONOUNS: A Duval County high school teacher faces criticism after telling a transgender student he will not use female pronouns to address her, First Coast News reports.

SUSPENSIONS: Three administrators at Santa Rosa County’s Milton High face suspensions over allegations they failed to properly oversee the schools volunteer and stipend programs, which already led to the athletic director’s demotion, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

BANNED: A former Palm Beach County teacher, accused of sending explicit sexual messages to a student, loses his Florida teaching certification, the Palm Beach Post reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  2. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. Times staff
    Go to the school district website before 8 a.m. Monday to state your case.
  3. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  4. The Pasco County school district would rezone the Seven Oaks subdivision from the Wiregrass Ranch High feeder pattern to the Cypress Creek High feeder pattern, beginning in the 2020-21 school year. Pasco County school district
    The Seven Oaks subdivision is the primary target for rezoning.
  5. Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  7. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  8. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  9. This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.