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Florida education news: School police, teacher contracts and a Common Core debate

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Pinellas Sheriff's trainers line the back of the room as more than 100 school security officers, or "guardians,"  began training.
Pinellas Sheriff's trainers line the back of the room as more than 100 school security officers, or "guardians," began training.
Published Oct. 10, 2019

SCHOOL SECURITY: Hernando County school district officials are divided in their opinions over whether to create a district police force. The administration proposed the idea as a way to bring more officers into the schools. • The Clay County School Board directs its superintendent to find security solutions for the county’s two charter schools, Clay Today reports.

CONTRACT TALKS: Hillsborough County teachers reach a tentative agreement with the district, including a proposal to increase starting teacher pay to $40,000.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Incumbent Pasco County School Board member Colleen Beaudoin announces her reelection bid.

SIDELINES: The FHSAA reduces its suspension of Plant High School football coach Robert Weiner, accused of providing special treatment to a player. Weiner received praise statewide for helping a player find a temporary home, even as the FHSAA penalized him for doing so. • The Pasco County school district immediately closes some bleachers at two high schools because of structural concerns.

COMMON CORE: Teachers at a public hearing in Seminole County tell Florida Department of Education leaders that the standards proposed to replace the Common Core in the state’s schools would represent a step backward, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • Some speakers at a Highlands County hearing on the standards warn against adopting vague replacements, and say schools will need time to prepare for whatever emerges, the Highlands News-Sun reports. • The next public session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Alachua County school district office.

TEACHER PAY: Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie says the state should focus whatever teacher pay plan it devises on all teachers and not just on the entry level positions, Florida Politics reports.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: The Escambia County School Board works on setting criteria for selecting its first appointed superintendent, WUWF reports. • The Volusia County School Board asks its seven remaining candidates for superintendent to write some essays, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

IN COURT: A federal court approves a settlement allowing Collier County students turned away from school because of limited English skills to appeal the refusal, Florida Politics reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Lake and Seminole county school districts continue to not adopt a policy governing medical marijuana use in schools, WFTV reports.

PRINCIPAL NEEDED: An Alachua County elementary school whose principal was forced out because of poor student results struggles to get by and wants its leader back, WUFT reports.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL: Manatee County’s School Board chairman stands behind embattled superintendent Cynthia Saunders even as the state Education Practice Commission rejects a settlement offer to Saunders over a graduation rate inflation scandal, SRQ reports.

CLOSING SCHOOLS: The Broward County school district looks into closing and combining under-enrolled schools, as it seeks ways to combat a loss of students to charter schools, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

HOLOCAUST DENIER: The Palm Beach County former high school principal who was removed after controversial comments about the Holocaust remains a district employee, despite the superintendent’s stated plans to terminate him, the Palm Beach Post reports.

TAXES: The Clay County Commission places the school district’s sales tax referendum on the 2020 ballot, Clay Today reports. The School Board had wanted a vote this year, but the commission refused.

TACO TIME: Students at five Lee County high schools will compete in a taco cookoff, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

BRANDING: Leon County School Board members debate the need to hire a marketing firm to help improve the district’s public image, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

WHISTLEBLOWER? An ousted Flager County teacher says his contract was not renewed after he reported what he considered inappropriate acts by a colleague. The district disputes his allegation, Flagler Live reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. School employees Jarvis Delon West, left, and Dontae Antonio Thomas, right, were both arrested in connection with the assault and injury of a 12-year-old boy who attended AMIkids in Pinellas Park. The state shut the school down.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.