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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. The Pasco County school district is considering adopting a policy for student medical marijuana use on district property. [Getty Images]
    The rule will not change the district’s current approach to the touchy topic.
  2. Shown in 2002, Carolyn Hill, then the principal of Kenly Elementary School in east Tampa, celebrated after 78 of her students improved their state scores and were treated to lunch at The Colonnade Restaurant. Hill, now deceased, might be honored Tuesday as the Hillsborough County School Board considers naming a school for her in the SouthShore area. STAFF  |  Tampa Bay Times
    School Board members will select a name on Tuesday
  3. Alachua County school superintendent Karen Clarke welcomes the crowd at a "listening session" Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019 to discuss changes in the Florida's education standards. A similar session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at Jefferson High, 4401 W Cypress St. in Tampa. The Florida Channel
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  4. The Pinellas School Board recognized James Krull as the district's bus Driver of the Year at its meeting Tuesday. From left are board members Bill Dudley, Eileen Long, Carol Cook, Rene Flowers, Krull, and board members Nicole Carr, Joanne Lentino and Lisa Cane. Pinellas County Schools
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  5. In this image from a telecast by The Florida Channel, Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks to a Gainesville crowd that came to discuss revisions to the state's education standards this past week. “We’re going to end up with the world’s best standards,” Corcoran said. The Florida Channel
    The effort, ordered by Gov. Ron DeSantis, aims to transform the way students learn in public schools. A “listening session” is set for Tampa’s Jefferson High.
  6. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times  Florida Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr., R- Hialeah; Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, watch the passage of the school voucher bill Tuesday in the Florida House.
    The new program, designed to eliminate waiting lists for tax credit scholarships, is likely to be challenged in court.
  7. A research group has raised concerns that Florida's plan to track student social media usage and collect other data will compromise children's privacy.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. Sigfredo Garcia rubs his eyes as he prepares to hear the closing arguments on Thursday in his trial on charges he killed Florida State University law professor Daniel Markel in 2014. The case went to the jury later in the day, and they will resume deliberations Friday. Tallahassee Democrat
    Florida State University law professor Daniel Markel was killed in 2014. Prosecutors blame his ex-wife, but only the hitman and his girlfriend stand trial.
  9. Gov. Ron DeSantis greets local officials at Dunedin High School on Oct. 7, 2019, part of a swing around the state to announce his plan to boost starting teacher pay in Florida to $47,500. MEGAN REEVES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Veteran teachers aren’t included. The governor can’t set teacher salaries. And a host of other concerns.
  10. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is scheduled to lead a listening session on the state's education standards review. CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Watch the discussion on the Florida Channel.