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Florida education news: School choice, a campus cemetery, and a dumpster-diving bear

A roundup of stories from around the state.
A Florida black bear (not this one) was found at a Marion County school and removed. [CARLTON WARD JR | Carlton Ward Jr]
Published Oct. 23

SCHOOL CHOICE: Florida’s Legislative Black Caucus sets twin education goals for the 2020 session — added support for public schools and for school choice options. The group’s members increasingly has backed measures expanding vouchers and related programs.

GROWTH PLANS: Faced with increasing enrollment, the Hernando County school district anticipates $14 million in new classroom additions at several schools.

STUDENT ATHLETES: A key Florida House member expects legislation to set some basic requirements for schools to keep student-athletes safe during training and games.

CAMPUS CEMETERY: The search continues for a forgotten pauper’s cemetery on the grounds where Hillsborough County’s King High School was later built.

TIME TO GO: Palm Beach County’s superintendent takes steps to fire the high school principal who made controversial comments about the Holocaust a year ago, the Palm Beach Post reports. The incident led to a statewide review of how schools teach about the Holocaust.

MORE REQUIRED INSTRUCTION: Two Democratic lawmakers file legislation that would require Florida schools to teach about water safety, Florida Politics reports.

MENTAL HEALTH: The Bay County school district explores ways to extend mental health services to students and staff, WMBB reports.

SUPERINTENDENT SELECTION: The Jacksonville City Council splits on a proposed local bill that would ask Duval County voters to consider electing the school district superintendent, Florida Politics reports. The lawmaker putting forth the measure says he will continue with his plan. More from the Florida Times-Union.

HARASSMENT INVESTIGATION: The Sarasota County School Board calls a special meeting to discuss its next steps after receiving an investigator’s report into an employees accusation of sexual harassment by a top administrator, the Herald-Tribune reports.

PUBLIC COMMENT: A Manatee County activist is arrested during comments to the School Board after arguing with officials, the Herald-Tribune reports. More from the Bradenton Herald.

SCHOOL DAYS: The Broward County school district contemplates giving students the day off for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Few school districts in the nation take such a step.

DUMPSTER DIVING: A Florida black bear found sifting through trash at a Marion County school is relocated to the Ocala National Forest, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Indian River County School Board reviews a proposed policy to allow medical marijuana use in schools, TC Palm reports.

TOP PRINCIPAL: The leader of Lake County’s only A-rated high school is named the district’s principal of the year, the Daily Commercial reports.

SHOOTER DRILLS: St. Johns County school district officials say they like the state proposal to scale back active shooter drills, the St. Augustine Record reports.

REPORT CARDS: The Leon County school district delays its transition to electronic report cards, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

GETTING THERE: Sarasota and Polk county school districts are affected by a nationwide recall of school buses, WFLA reports.

BAD ACTS: A Duval County high school teacher is removed from her classroom as the school district investigates allegations that she wrote profanities on a classroom white board, WJAX reports.

TODAY: House Higher Education Appropriations, 3 p.m. • House PreK-12 Innovation, 3 p.m. (Student-athlete health) • Florida Standards Review listening session, 5:30 p.m., Walton High School, 449 Walton Road, DeFuniak Springs

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news in review


  1. The Pasco County School Board meets in August 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK
    Having won a concession relating to rising juniors, some Wesley Chapel families seek more changes to a proposed reassignment plan.
  2. A school bus travels the early morning streets. One Marion County elementary school will change its start time because some parents say they can't get their kids to school before the first bell.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Tony Hart wanted to volunteer at his children's school but was stopped by a criminal background screening. Before that, he said he was making a positive impact at Adams Middle School in Tampa. MARLENE SOKOL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The school district never considered Tony Hart a volunteer. But he was heavily involved, earning praise from the principal.
  4. 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
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Students from Curlew Creek Elementary in Palm Harbor attend the school's Veterans Day program in 2016. The Pinellas County school system remains open for the holiday. DOUGLAS CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Some campuses in the Tampa Bay area have no classes on the national holiday to honor U.S. military veterans, while others stay open.
  6. Pasco County's 2020 teacher of the year finalists are Jennifer Dixon, Joel Santos Gonzalez and Patty Hanley. Pasco County school district
    The winner will find out with a surprise visit later in the school year.
  7. Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Palm Harbor, chairs the House PreK-12 Appropriations committee. News Service of Florida
    House PreK-12 Appropriations chair Chris Latvala discusses leadership’s education priorities and how they hope to get there.
  8. Students make their way to new classrooms on March 18, 2019 at Melrose Elementary, which received $26 million in improvements recently. The school is home to the Center for Communications, Journalism & Multimedia Studies, which will welcome families for a Discovery Night at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Times (2019)
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  9. The Palm Beach County school district is talking about whether to allow high schools to have girls wear one color and boys another at graduations like this one. Some have suggested the practice leaves out some students.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning takes to YouTube to urge the community to help prevent children from making online threats of violence against schools. Pasco County School District
    The district has seen 13 threat-related arrests so far this year, compared to four all last year.