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Florida education news: School threat tips, state testing, and voucher funding

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. [Florida Department of Education]
Published Sep. 20

ANONYMOUS TIPSTERS: Some Florida school districts raise concerns about the anonymity of Fortify Florida, saying it makes it harder to figure out which leads are really worthy of pursuing.

ENGLISH LEARNERS: A state lawmaker proposes legislation to exempt teens still learning English from Florida’s English-language arts testing graduation requirement.

GUARD ARRESTED: A Pinellas County school guard is arrested on charges associated with pawning his district-issued weapon. The situation came to light after his arrest on domestic battery and false imprisonment charges.

SCIENCE LESSONS: The University of Florida aims to put a scientist into every school in five counties, WMFE reports.

TEACHER BONUSES: The Florida Department of Education and Florida Education Association ask a judge to approve their $15.5 million settlement to a legal challenge of the Best and Brightest program, the News Service of Florida reports. Lawmakers set aside the money in their 2019-20 budget.

BUDGET REQUEST: The Department of Education presents its proposed education budget to the House PreK-12 Appropriations committee, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. The Board of Education approved its request a month ago. More from Capitol News Service.

ON PRINCIPLE: A Polk County School Board member votes against the district’s budget because it did not include employee raises, the Ledger reports.

SCHOOL POLICE: Marion County’s sheriff criticizes the school district for establishing its own police department after saying it would take only limited steps to gain access to available funds and full incident reports, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. • An Orange County school district officer faces an investigation after arresting 6- and 8-year-old students on unrelated misdemeanor charges, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

CLIMATE PROTEST: Miami-Dade County students who plan to take part in a worldwide school walkout to attend a climate change rally won’t be given excused absences, which means they won’t be allowed to make up missed work, the Miami Herald reports. One Broward County student who handed out flyers to attend a climate event is suspended for a day, which in turn prevents him from going to prom, the Miami Herald reports.

CONTRACT TALKS: Charlotte County teachers return to the bargaining table to talk pay and benefits, the Charlotte Sun reports. • Orange County teachers receive a bonus proposal from the district as they resume contract talks, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

CHARTER FIGHT: More details continue to spill out in a battle over the takeover of a struggling Manatee County charter school, even after a hearing officer nears release of his ruling on the dispute, the Bradenton Herald reports.

ARTS EDUCATION: A Martin County private school prepares to build a new performing arts complex to give its students more exposure to the arts, TC Palm reports.

NEW SCHOOLS: One of Volusia County’s oldest schools debuts its new buildings, paid for by the district’s sales tax revenue, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

‘GET YOUR TEACH ON’: A Lee County elementary school joins a national activity to find ways to make learning more fun, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

GETTING THERE: A Martin County school crossing guard helps create community while keeping children safe on their way to classes, TC Palm reports.

LACK OF COMMUNICATION: Parents at a Collier County elementary school say they want more information about allegations that a teacher there sexually abused several children, the Naples Daily News reports.

BAD ACTS: A Hendry County teacher is arrested on allegations of selling drugs to students at school, the Associated Press reports.

TODAY: Florida Board of Education, 9 a.m. On the agenda: Rule changes related to turnaround schools and required instruction reporting.

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.