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Florida education news: Adjunct teachers, charter schools and a superintendent scandal

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Rachael O'Dea, principal of Forest Hills Elementary School, interviewed a prospective teacher during a hiring fair in 2018. Some of the 50 long-struggling schools have battled teaching shortages. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Nov. 6

TEACHER SHORTAGE: Florida’s school districts long have struggled to fill all their classroom vacancies with qualified teachers. The State Board of Education is poised to give them a new source of faculty — full-time adjunct instructors.

TIME TO GROW: Saying west Pasco families need more high quality education options, the county’s oldest charter school proposes to increase its enrollment by one third.

FEDERAL AID: Lawmakers from Florida and Connecticut seek added federal support for schools that have welcomed hurricane refugees from Puerto Rico, Education Week reports.

SARASOTA SCANDAL: The Sarasota County School Board puts superintendent Todd Bowden on notice that he faces disciplinary action that could include termination over his handling of a sexual harassment complaint, the Herald-Tribune reports. Bowden had offered to step down in exchange for a guaranteed 10-year job as a department director, the Herald-Tribune reports.

BOMB SCARE: All nine Taylor County schools are evacuated and searched after the county receives a threat that bombs will go off in them unless an inmate is paid $1 million, the Miami Herald reports.

MAKING PROGRESS: Manatee County’s Rogers Garden-Bullock Elementary School celebrates moving out of the state’s turnaround system for the first time since it opened, the Bradenton Herald reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Collier County School Board takes steps toward adopting a state-mandated medical marijuana usage policy, the Naples Daily News reports.

CONTRACT TALKS: The Manatee County school district reaches an agreement with its teachers and paraprofessionals, the Bradenton Herald reports. • Bay County teachers would get 3 percent raises under a tentative deal with the district, the Panama City News Herald reports.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: The Volusia County School Board prepares to interview three finalists for superintendent so they can select their next chief executive on Nov. 12, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

SCHOOL DAYS: The Lee County school district sets its 2020-21 student calendar to include a week off for Thanksgiving, acknowledging high absenteeism if it holds classes for part of the week, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A proposed new Destin charter high school can begin working toward a fall 2020 opening as the Okaloosa County school district formally approves its contract, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

SETTLED: A former Flagler County teacher who claimed his contract was not renewed after he reported harassment of students by others wins a $30,000 settlement with the district, Flagler Live reports.

BAD ACTS: A former Pasco County high school assistant principal is sentenced to 35 years in prison in a plea agreement over child pornography and sexual abuse charges. The prosecutor called Kyle Ritsema a “super predator.” • A Broward County school resource officer is arrested on accusations he slammed an elementary school student to the ground, Fox News reports. • A Duval County school safety guard is fired after allegations he pointed a fake gun at a student, the Florida Times-Union reports. • A Broward County private school principal is arrested on charges of domestic violence, WPLG reports.

TODAY: House Higher Education Appropriations, 3:30 p.m.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. An investiture ceremony is set for Thursday at 2 p.m. inside USF’s Yuengling Center in Tampa. Currall and other USF leaders will speak about the school’s future.
  2. Experts are recommending the flu shot as outbreaks pop up in Hillsborough County schools.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. The Pasco County school district is considering an increase in substitute teacher pay to combat its low fill rate for the jobs.
    District officials say more competitive wages could help fill vacancies, which have been rising.
  4. JoAnne Glenn is cheered by her staff as deputy superintendent Ray Gadd and other district officials surprise her with the announcement that she is Pasco County's 2020 Principal of the Year. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    JoAnne Glenn next will be entered for the statewide honor.
  5. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning briefly blocked a critic from his social media accounts. He has since restored access to the person but says he would rather they have a conversation, “like two grown adults.” [Times (2016)]
    Kurt Browning restored his online nemesis as a Twitter follower and Facebook friend after staffers told him that blocking people was a no-no.
  6. Shawn Tye, left, applies fiberglass to a boat console as Dustin Pirko looks at Marchman Technical Education Center. Hernando’s business development manager says that in creating a technical school an effort would be made not to duplicate Marchman.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. Sen. Travis Hutson presents his Job Growth Grant Fund legislation to the Senate Education Committee on Nov. 12, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The original version would have targeted charter schools only.
  8. A flag supporting President Donald Trump flutters near the University of Florida's Century Tower before an Oct. 10 appearance on campus by Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle. A controversy over the political nature of the event has led to calls for the impeachment of Student Body President Michael C. Murphy, who helped set it up. Courtesy of Chris Day
    A push to oust Student Body President Michael Murphy comes after an email surfaces, suggesting he worked with the Trump campaign to bring a political speech to campus.
  9. Odessa Elementary School in Pasco County has grown to 1,126 students in fall 2020. Pasco County school district
    At 1,126 students, Odessa is larger than 10 of the district’s 16 middle schools, too.
  10. Construction workers have prepared the skeleton for what will become the music and art wing of Cypress Creek Middle School in Pasco County. Some Wesley Chapel parents are fighting the rezoning plan that would reassign their children to the school.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.