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Florida education news: USF consolidation, student data, GPA rigging and more

A roundup of stories from around the state.
The USF St. Petersburg Campus, Thursday, June 19, 2014.
The USF St. Petersburg Campus, Thursday, June 19, 2014.
Published Sep. 16

TRY AGAIN: Florida lawmakers don’t like what they see in the University of South Florida’s consolidation plan. They say it violates state law by taking authority away from the school’s St. Petersburg and Sarasota campuses.

GUNS ON CAMPUS: A Pinellas County parent is arrested on accusations of bringing a gun to his child’s elementary school.

SCHOOL SAFETY: Okaloosa County schools will receive more than $1 million in security upgrades, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports. • Questions and concerns surround Florida’s new school safety database, WLRN reports.

SUPERINTENDENTS: Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie gets his worst ever job evaluation, with some board members giving him ‘unsatisfactory’ ratings, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • The Duval County legislative delegation will look into proposed changes to how the school district selects its superintendent, Florida Politics reports.

EXODUS: Many students never returned to their Panhandle school districts after Hurricane Michael, the News Service of Florida reports.

LET THE MUSIC PLAY: Disney donates $20,000 to help a Lake County high school replace musical instruments destroyed by a fire, WKMG reports.

GUARDIANS: The Florida Department of Education is not tracking which school districts will allow teachers to volunteer as armed guardians, the News Service of Florida reports.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The Polk County school district has no tracking system to ensure student education plans are being followed, the Ledger reports. Several complaints have been filed.

START TIMES: The Orange County school district continues its discussions over whether to change the hours that high schools operate, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

TERM LIMITS: State Rep. Anthony Sabatini revives legislation seeking to limit school board members to two consecutive terms in office, the News Service of Florida reports.

GPA RIGGING: A Volusia County high school, where the principal was removed amid allegations she offered fake classes for athletes, is forced to stop labeling all core courses as “honors” to give students a GPA boost, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

OUSTED: An Alachua County principal with a history of turning around struggling schools is forced out of her elementary school because of its state grade, the Gainesville Sun reports.

WALKING AWAY: A Broward County assistant principal decides to retire rather than fight allegations she struck a student, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

ACQUITTED: Two Sarasota County school district employees are acquitted in trials accusing them of child abuse, leaving the parents and students who brought the allegations confused, the Herald-Tribune reports.

BAD ACTS: A Clay County high school janitor is arrested on allegations that he placed a camera in the girls locker room to record students undressing, the Florida Times-Union reports.


  1. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    The sides have not set a new date for negotiations.
  2. Tony Pirotta, right, meets with his Armwood High Ought to be a Law student club and state Rep. Susan Valdes to talk strategy for the group's latest legislative proposal. They presented their bill to state senators on Dec. 9. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Florida's Baker Act was written in 1971 by Maxine Baker, a 65-year-old grandmother and a freshman Florida legislator from Miami-Dade County, seen here in a 1965 photo. [Associated Press]
    The law was written in 1971 by Maxine Baker, then a freshman legislator from Miami-Dade County who pushed for the rights of people with mental illness.
  4. Sarah Henderson with her son, Braden, who was committed under the Baker Act after a joking remark at school. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A cop car comes. A child is handcuffed and taken to a mental health facility. The scene is all too frequent at public schools across the state.
  5. Three Armwood High School students testify before the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. Left to right are seniors Maria Medina, Haley Manigold and Madison Harvey. [Emily L. Mahoney | Times]
    “The people who are cynics about politics are also the ones who complain the most,” said one student, who said democracy requires participation.
  6. Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island.
    The idea is part of Florida leaders’ pitch to address low teacher pay, though there is still disagreement over how to do so.
  7. The government program provides free lunches in schools that qualify, regardless of a student's family income. The idea is to erase a stigma.
    One manager lost her job, accused of taking advantage of the program she oversaw.
  8. Sally Henderson, a Hillsborough County teacher, is one of the few Florida educators to earn National Board certification since 2015.
    The state still has more teachers in the program than all states except North Carolina.
  9. Staci Plonsky holds art from son A.J., who has autism, that depicts his memory of being taken by the school resource officer to a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act law. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. 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.