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Florida education news: First Amendment rights, flu shots and another superintendent’s struggles

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Experts are recommending the flu shot as outbreaks pop up in Hillsborough County schools.
Experts are recommending the flu shot as outbreaks pop up in Hillsborough County schools.
Published Nov. 14

PUBLIC SPACES: Pasco County schools superintendent Kurt Browning takes some heat on his social media accounts, and blocks one of his toughest critics. He reverses himself after being reminded that because he uses the accounts for public business, he can’t block the public. • The Manatee County School Board faces accusations of discrimination after having a black man removed from its business meeting for refusing to sit down, the Herald-Tribune reports. Video from the Bradenton Herald.

LET THEM PRAY: A federal appeals court reinstates the First Amendment-related lawsuit in which Tampa’s Cambridge Christian School sued after it was not allowed to use the public address system for prayer at a state high school football championship game, the News Service of Florida reports.

SEEKING SUBSTITUTES: With its substitute teacher fill rate down, the Pasco County school district proposes to increase its pay rate.

FLU SEASON: Hillsborough County schools are experiencing an early outbreak of the flu.

TOP PRINCIPAL: Pasco eSchool founding administrator JoAnne Glenn is named Pasco County 2020 Principal of the Year.

TENSIONS MOUNT: The Marion County School Board will ask Gov. Ron DeSantis to review a report on how superintendent Heidi Maier treated a whistleblower, with an eye toward removing Maier, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. The board and Maier, whose term expires in November 2020, have been fighting an escalating power battle for several months.

FIX IT: Manatee County’s aging Witt Elementary School will get a complete renovation, despite some calls to raze and replace it, the Bradenton Herald reports.

READING RESULTS: The Sarasota County school district releases its latest promotion and retention report, indicating about two-thirds of students were on grade level for reading, the Herald-Tribune reports.

GROWING STRONG: The Santa Rosa County Commission instructs its staff to begin drafting an ordinance to impose school impact fees, just months after saying it didn’t have enough information to justify such a move, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. • The Lee County school district breaks ground on a new high school as it launches a series of projects to address rising enrollment, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

MAINTENANCE NEEDS: During a battle over a school district sales tax request, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry asked Duval County school employees to tell him about classroom maintenance needs so he could get them fixed. The ideas came, but no work got done, the Florida Times-Union reports.

SCHOOL DAYS: An Orange County school district survey indicates most parents do not want to have later high school start times, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

TEACHER PAY: Some Alachua County teachers say their salaries don’t allow for a stable lifestyle, and a 2 percent raise will do little to help, WUFT reports.

FOOD INSECURITY: The Miami Super Bowl host committee donates breakfast carts to several south Florida schools to help get meals to needing children, the Miami Times reports.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES: Citrus County School Board members express dismay with the length of time it’s taking to get counselors into the schools, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

SCIENCE LESSONS: Sixth graders at a Lake County middle school will help NASA collect data for a study on airplane contrails, the Daily Commercial reports.

SUPERINTENDENT’S EVALUATION: The Polk County School Board says it’s ‘very satisfied’ with superintendent Jacqueline Byrd, the Ledger reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A Monroe County charter school prepares to relocate as its lease expires, the Key West Citizen reports.

ON BOARD: Miami-Dade County superintendent Alberto Carvalho is reappointed to the National Assessment Governing Board, Florida Politics reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Gulf County school district is the latest to adopt a required medical marijuana usage policy, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

BAD ACTS: An Orange County charter school’s administrator is arrested on accusations he took videos under the skirts of several females at the school, Fox 35 reports.

TODAY: House PreK-12 Appropriations, 9 a.m.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Osceola Middle School civics teacher Mike Rivera of Largo does his vampire act to teach his seventh-grade students about the Bill of Rights recently.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. USF St. Petersburg graduates await their turn to walk the stage during the May 2019 commencement at Mahaffey Theater. This year's fall commencement is set for Sunday, when some 450 USFSP graduates will be receiving degrees. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  3. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis raises his hands after being asked about his relationship with two Ukrainian businessmen during an announcement at a Palm Harbor Walmart Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. DeSantis refused to answer questions about the two men. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    During a news conference in Naples, DeSantis launched into a long-winded discussion of American history, which he said young people need to know better.
  4. Jarrod Haneline, shown when he was named principal of Jackson Elementary School in 2018, has left that position. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    Jarrod Haneline left the position in recent weeks.
  5. Yesterday• Gradebook
    Alan Black, outgoing principal of Burney Elementary School, in an image on the school website. [HSPS  |  Handout]
    School leaders will trade jobs in the new year.
  6. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    The sides have not set a new date for negotiations.
  7. Tony Pirotta, right, meets with his Armwood High Ought to be a Law student club and state Rep. Susan Valdes to talk strategy for the group's latest legislative proposal. They presented their bill to state senators on Dec. 9. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. Florida's Baker Act was written in 1971 by Maxine Baker, a 65-year-old grandmother and a freshman Florida legislator from Miami-Dade County, seen here in a 1965 photo. [Associated Press]
    The law was written in 1971 by Maxine Baker, a legislator from Miami-Dade County who pushed for the rights of people with mental illness.
  9. Sarah Henderson with her son, Braden, who was committed under the Baker Act after a joking remark at school. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A cop car comes. A child is handcuffed and taken to a mental health facility. The scene is all too frequent at public schools across the state.
  10. Three Armwood High School students testify before the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. Left to right are seniors Maria Medina, Haley Manigold and Madison Harvey. [Emily L. Mahoney | Times]
    “The people who are cynics about politics are also the ones who complain the most,” said one student, who said democracy requires participation.