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Florida education news: Sex education, school prayer and a judge’s unpopular decision

A roundup of stories from around the state.
A fledgling movement of parents and community members in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are speaking out about sex education in public schools. They say the curriculums are not explicit enough. And they worry that kids don’t have enough information — or that they get it too late — to protect themselves against the risks of sexual intimacy. [Shutterstock] [SHUTTERSTOCK]
Published Nov. 18

SEX EDUCATION: The Hillsborough County school district quietly launches changes to its sex education curriculum in 13 of its schools, without public conversations. Its handling of the hot button topic draws praise from some fronts, but criticism from others that argue the schools seem to be encouraging children to have sex.

‘OUTRAGEOUS’: Florida Republicans rush to defend the University of Florida’s student government leader, who faces an impeachment vote over the manner in which he brought Donald Trump Jr. to campus for a speech.

CONTRACT TALKS: Pasco County school-related personnel come closer to a deal in collective bargaining. The sides meet again Monday to see if they can seal the agreement. • Sarasota County’s next superintendent will have to decide quickly on how to deal with vocal union demands, the Herald-Tribune reports.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: All four Hillsborough County School Board incumbents face challenges in their 2020 reelection bids. • Veteran Sarasota County School Board member Caroline Zucker, a former state school boards association president, will not seek reelection after 22 years on the board, the Herald-Tribune reports.

PARENT INVOLVEMENT: The Orange County school district turns to technology, as well as person-to-person contacts, as a way to encourage more parents to participate in the schools, Education Week reports.

SCHOOL VIOLENCE: A Baker County judge faces her community’s wrath after dismissing felony charges against a teen who threatened to shoot up his school, Florida Politics reports.

PRAYER TIME: Two Nassau County third graders try to start a weekly prayer group at their intermediate school, the Nassau County Record reports. It worked at their elementary school, but has yet to take hold at their latest campus. • State Sen. Dennis Baxley files legislation that would require public schools to offer a daily moment of silence for students, Florida Politics reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Highlands County School Board will hold a special meeting to meet the state’s requirement that it adopt a medical marijuana usage policy, the Highlands News-Sun reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A Lake County group withdraws its application to open a new charter school, which had faced controversy over its location and only reluctant support from the school district, the Daily Commercial reports.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL: State officials seek improvements to the Florida Virtual School’s operations and its cybersecurity efforts, the News Service of Florida reports. The State Board of Education recently took over FLVS.

TURNAROUNDS: Hamilton County school district leaders credit their attention to student mental health, rather than a focus on core academics, for the district’s overall improvements, the Suwannee Democrat reports.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: Miami-Dade County assistant superintendent David Moore is selected to become Indian River County’s next school superintendent, TC Palm reports. • A small group of Escambia County residents offers its views on the qualities they would like to see in the school district’s first appointed superintendent, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

LEGAL COUNSEL: The Lee County School Board debates whether to hire an outside lawyer or employ a full-time staff attorney, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

IN THE SUNSHINE: Records indicate that the Leon County School Board did not properly follow the state’s open meetings law during several agenda review meetings, Tallahassee Reports reports.

TODAY: Gov. Ron DeSantis is scheduled to release his 2020-21 budget proposal at 10 a.m. in the state capitol. Florida Politics offers a preview.


  1. Chanell Newell, a reading teacher at Woodson K-8 School, is a finalist for Hillsborough Teacher of the Year. HCPS  |  HCPS
    The winners will be announced on Jan. 23.
  2. A school bus travels the early morning streets of Pasco County on the way to the first day of classes in 2017.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Transgender student Drew Adams speaks with reporters outside of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Adam's fight over school restrooms came before a federal appeals court Thursday, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High in Ponte Vedra, Fla., won a lower court ruling last year ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. The district has since appealed. RON HARRIS  |  AP
    The closely watched case of Drew Adams, once a high school student in Florida, is heard by a three-judge panel in Atlanta.
  4. Representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco, on the left, present their latest pay request to the district's bargaining team during talks on Oct. 24, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Teachers have yet to reach a deal on their contract.
  5. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. It has met just once more since then. The Florida Channel
    Lawmakers have yet to set an aggressive agenda beyond talk of teacher pay as the 2020 legislative session nears.
  6. FILE - In a Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 file photo, transgender teen Drew Adams, left, leaves the U. S. Courthouse with his mother Erica Adams Kasper after the first day of his trial about bathroom rights at Nease High School, in Jacksonville, Fla. The transgender student's fight over school bathrooms comes before a federal appeals court Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling. Drew Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, won a lower court ruling in 2018 ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys' restroom. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP, File) WILL DICKEY  |  AP
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  7. A bird's-eye view of USF St. Petersburg, which this week announced a new member of the Campus Board. She is Melissa Seixas, a Duke Energy executive who earned her master's degree at USF.
    News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
  8. An LGBTQ Pride march participant walks under a large rainbow flag in New York earlier this year. School Board policy regarding LGBTQ students has been a frequent topic of discussion in recent months in Pasco County. CRAIG RUTTLE  |  AP
    The discourse is more civil and respectful, two weeks after a session that many deemed hate-filled and vile.
  9. The Florida Legislature so far has has left Gov. Ron DeSantis to set most education policy priorities for 2020.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. "Miss Virginia," a film about school choice, will be screened at the Tampa Theatre on Dec. 10.
    “Miss Virginia” will be playing at the Tampa Theater on Tuesday.