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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.
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, 2019

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

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  1. First Lady Casey DeSantis talks with students during the Hope for Healing a mental and substance abuse initiative held Roland Park K-8 School in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said state officials worked closely with DeSantis to craft the new rule. OCTAVIO JONES | Times
  2. In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after a shooter opened fire on the campus.
  3. Pinellas County School Board member Carol Cook, left, celebrates her reelection to her fifth term in 2016. If ultimately approved, a term limits proposal would force Florida's school board members out after two consecutive terms.
  4. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini fields questions on the House floor on Feb. 19, 2020, about his proposal to ask voters to limit school board member terms.
  5. Chicken and vegetable dumplings with soy sauce were offered to students to test during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste-testing, Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at Pinellas Technical College. Twenty-eight new food items were tested and rated.  Some will be added to next year's school menus.
  6. 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.
  7. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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)
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