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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, 2019

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. Florida lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at improving the outcomes of the state's prekindergarten program. Some critics suggest the proposed solutions, such as added testing, go too far.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. Victoria Arriaga, left, does a letter-matching activity during Priscilla Perez's pre-kindergarten class at West Tampa Elementary School. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    The 148-page bill would lead to a new ‘grading’ system for prekindergarten providers, so parents can better choose programs for their toddlers.
  3. Pasco County's Fivay High School has added new security measures to keep the peace on campus. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
    Parents want to see more control of the campus.
  4. Hillsborough County Chief of Schools Harrison Peters, speaking with students here at Potter Elementary School, is a the choice to become superintendent of Providence, R.I., schools. [Times file (2016)]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Harrison Peters, Chief of Schools in Hillsborough County, has landed a job as superintendent in Providence, R.I. [HCPS  |  Handout]
    Peters will become a turnaround superintendent at a troubled district.
  6. Gov. Ron DeSantis. [STEVE CANNON  |  AP]
    Florida students will read more classical literature and learn math differently, according to summary documents.
  7. Janessa Horsford, 5, says goodbye to her parents, Julytsa and Nigel Horsford, on her first day of kindergarten at Lake Magdalene Elementary School.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. Miranda Harwood, a fourth-grade math teacher at Brooker Elementary School, is the Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year. [Hillsborough County Public Schools]
    The self-described “data queen” uses humor to keep her students engaged.
  9. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    Five girls and one boy will face charges after lunchtime fights disrupted the Pasco County campus, according to the school district.
  10. State Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, presents legislation to create a new chapter of Florida law dedicated to parents' rights when dealing with government and other agencies, during a committee meeting Jan. 23, 2020. [The Florida Channel]
    Parents have been marginalized by bureaucracy, and need to be empowered in law, sponsor Rep. Erin Grall says.