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Florida education news: Teacher evaluations, security recommendations and student therapies

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Fifth grade teacher Michelle Brandon is one of four Hudson Elementary School teachers to be removed after two weeks of classes because of her state VAM score. Here she reviews classroom rules with students on the first day of school 2019. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK | Times]
Published Oct. 17

RATING TEACHERS: Florida’s long-criticized ‘value-added model,’ or VAM, comes under scrutiny in the state House as an education subcommittee discusses its role in evaluating teachers. The issue popped back on the radar screen this fall as low-rated teachers were removed from their classrooms, but legislative leaders haven’t said whether changes are in the works.

GUNS IN SCHOOLS: A Pasco County school resource officer is fired after authorities determine his inappropriate handling of his weapon caused it to fire in a crowded middle school cafeteria. The incident took place in the spring, as lawmakers were debating whether to allow teachers to carry guns as guardians.

R.I.P.: Longtime Pinellas County educator and one-time School Board member Lee Benjamin passes away at 92. • Broward County students will have a half day off every Feb. 14 to remember the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

NAME GAME: Hillsborough County’s newest school will be named after community pioneer Jule Sumner.

SUPERINTENDENTS: The interim superintendent of Madison County in the Panhandle is appointed to the post until the next election in 2020.

THERAPY: The Brevard County School Board seeks to readmit registered behavior technicians to its schools after learning they have been barred because of a legal technicality, Florida Today reports. The board had received complaints that the change had negatively affected children.

CONTRACT TALKS: Alachua County teachers reach a tentative agreement that would provide 2 percent raises, WCJB reports.

SCHOOL GUARDS: The state school Public Safety Commission recommends that private entities no longer be allowed to train school security guards, WPTV reports. More on the commission’s latest recommendations from the Sun-Sentinel.

MENTAL HEALTH: St. Lucie County schools plan to add more guidance counselors, CBS 12 reports.

SHARED LESSONS: Five Florida school districts join forces to seek the best teaching practices and share them with others, WLRN reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Florida school districts begin preparing policies to describe how students may use medical marijuana in school, after the Department of Education threatens penalties for districts without such rules, WTLV reports.

ENROLLMENT: The Manatee County school district surpasses 50,000 students for the first time, SRQ Magazine reports.

MAKEUP DAYS: Brevard County students will have to make up one day of classes because of time missed during Hurricane Dorian, Florida Today reports.

PAYCHECK PROBLEMS: The Manatee County school district overpaid employees by about $321,000, and those who got the money will have to give it back, the Bradenton Herald reports.

PROPERTY SWAP: The City of Green Cove Springs rejects a request to give the Clay County school district an old fire station for security needs, Clay Today reports.

INVESTIGATION RESULTS: An outside investigator finds a top Sarasota County school district official sexually harassed an employee and the superintendent did almost nothing about it after receiving a complaint, the Herald-Tribune reports.

IN COURT: A former St. Lucie County student sues the school district, contending the district mishandled her sexual harassment allegation against a teacher, TC Palm reports. The teacher was later arrested on child pornography and charges.

TODAY: House PreK-12 Appropriations, 9:30 a.m. On the agenda: Teacher compensation • Florida standards review listening session, 5:30 p.m., Jefferson High School, Tampa

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Pasco school bus drivers are among those school-related employees who would get a 3.25 percent raise under a tentative contract agreement for 2019-20.
    District, union attention now turns to teacher contracts.
  2. Teacher Kate Newell watches seventh graders Aaron Roxberry and Jacob Iovino practice the slope-intercept formula in one of her weekly visits to their Bayonet Point Middle algebra class, which Newell usually teaches remotely. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. eSchool teacher Kate Newell holds a discussion-based assessment with eighth-grader Ariana Toro during a recent visit to Bayonet Point Middle School. Newell leads the math course remotely most days, but comes to campus at least once weekly to give her students some extra attention. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Principals increasingly turn to virtual instruction to fill their vacancies.
  4. Victoria Arriaga, left, does a letter-matching activity during Priscilla Perez's pre-kindergarten class at West Tampa Elementary School in 2018.  [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    Reading proficiency, however, continues to be a challenge.
  5. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing $1 billion in increased teacher pay as part of a $91.4 billion state budget he put forward on Monday. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The Florida governor also wants to hire hundreds of new corrections officers and spend $1.4 billion on hurricane recovery.
  6. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.
  7. The Florida Department of Education has approved another alternate assessment for third graders to demonstrate they read at or above grade level.
    The state also reminds schools to let those who struggle that scholarships for help are available.
  8. Trump supporters yell and show the middle finger at hecklers during Kimberly Guilfoyle's speech in the University Auditorium at the University of Florida on October 10, 2019. Guilfoyle spoke about her childhood as a first-generation American, her experiences as a lawyer and her support for the Trump family.  CHRIS DAY  |  Chris Day
    Student senator Ben Lima explains why he’s pursuing the charges against Michael Murphy.
  9. A fledgling movement of parents and community members in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are speaking out about sex education in public schools. They say the curriculums are not explicit enough. And they worry that kids don’t have enough information — or that they get it too late — to protect themselves against the risks of sexual intimacy. [Shutterstock] SHUTTERSTOCK
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before the arrival of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy received a resolution for his impeachment Tuesday. Then the state’s Republican Party started an online petition and fundraiser.