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Florida education news: School threats, attendance zones and color-coded caps and gowns

A roundup of stories from around the state.
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.
Published Nov. 7

‘THIS IS NO JOKE’: Pasco County’s school superintendent takes to social media to ask parents to provide more oversight to their children’s online activities, saying the message that school threats — including false ones — carry heavy consequences. Pasco has seen 13 students arrested so far this year because of social media threats. • As if on cue, a Hillsborough County teen is arrested for making a threat of violence against her school, Bay News 9 reports.

PRINCIPAL RESIGNS: The ousted principal of Hillsborough County’s Martinez Middle School quits the district before he can be fired. Brent McBrien had been removed after a photo of him surfaced that district officials said did not meet the standards set for district leaders.

‘CULTURE OF DRINKING AND DRUGS’: The mother of a former Eckerd College student who died on the morning of her graduation is suing the school, contending its campus culture was to blame.

SCHOOL BOUNDARIES: Some Pasco County parents whose children are slated to be reassigned to different schools because of crowding ask the district to phase in the rezoning so it has less effect on their children. The School Board says it will meet them half way.

THIRD GRADE RETENTION: The Memphis, Tenn., school district models its new third-grade reading rules after Florida’s controversial retention law, Chalkbeat Tennessee reports.

TEACHER BONUSES: A federal judge gives preliminary approval to the state’s $15.5 million settlement of teachers’ court challenge to the Best and Brightest bonus program, the News Service of Florida reports.

SCHOOL SAFETY: After nearly two years, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission continues to hold sway over Florida’s school security policies, WLRN reports.

GRADUATION GOWNS: A Palm Beach County School Board member questions the appropriateness of high schools using color-coded caps and gowns based on gender, suggesting the practice might ostracize some students, the Palm Beach Post reports.

EMBATTLED CHARTER SCHOOL: Leaders of a Collier County charter school accused of mismanagement release a report they say ‘exonerates’ the school, the Naples Daily News reports. District officials disagree with that conclusion. More from WFTX.

SUE YOU: A Sarasota County school district employee, whose sexual harassment accusations against top administrators has nearly toppled the superintendent, has sued the district claiming her civil rights were violated, the Herald-Tribune reports.

TEACHER PAY: A Hillsborough County third grader gives $15 from his birthday money to his teacher, saying he knew teachers aren’t paid enough, the Associated Press reports.

CONTRACT TALKS: Brevard County school support employees reach a salary agreement with the district, Florida Today reports.

STUDENT VOICES: Some Clay County high school students get an audience with their superintendent to discuss issues of concern, including vaping and dress code, Clay Today reports.

ACHIEVEMENT GAP: Alachua County school district and city officials say they want more action to reduce the disparities in academic performance among black and white students, the Gainesville Sun reports.

PAYBACK? Marion County superintendent Heidi Maier plans to fire a whistleblower who filed a hostile workplace complaint against her, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. Her proposed action comes as an outside investigator finds the allegations against her to be false, though it still finds some fault in her style, the Star-Banner reports.

OVERTIME: The Palm Beach County school district agrees to pay bus drivers overtime pay that drivers claimed was illegally withheld, the Palm Beach Post reports. It’s the second time this year this has happened.

SCIENCE LESSONS: A University of Florida program aims to place a scientist at every school in Florida, WLRN reports.

STILL WAITING: Some University of Central Florida graduates have yet to receive their diplomas months after their commencement, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

TAXES: A new poll finds Duval County residents would favor a school district sales tax increase for capital projects, the Florida Times-Union reports.

TODAY: Workforce education listening tour, Jacksonville, 1 p.m.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. 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. He revealed a related teacher bonus plan on Nov. 14 in Vero Beach. MEGAN REEVES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The new plan would replace the controversial Best and Brightest model that DeSantis had called confusing.
  2. Cotee River Elementary student Darrell Jones waves his American flag during the school's Veterans Day program.
    The School Board is scheduled to vote on the calendar next week.
  3. Pasco eSchool principal JoAnne Glenn is surprised by school district officials who announced she is their 2020 Principal of the Year. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A discussion with Pasco County Principal of the Year JoAnne Glenn.
  4. 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.
  5. Experts are recommending the flu shot as outbreaks pop up in Hillsborough County schools.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.