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Florida education news: Metal detectors, synthetic frogs and a cemetery on campus

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Scott Purcell, a senior geophysicist with GeoView, left, and Mike Wightman, president of GeoView use ground penetrating radar technology to scan a portion of King High campus in search for Ridgewood Cemetery in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, October 23, 2019.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
Scott Purcell, a senior geophysicist with GeoView, left, and Mike Wightman, president of GeoView use ground penetrating radar technology to scan a portion of King High campus in search for Ridgewood Cemetery in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Nov. 21

CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE: Nine Florida school districts have asked the state Supreme Court to take up their case challenging the constitutionality of HB 7069, the 2017 law that created a new category of charter schools outside their purview (among other things). Lawyers for the Florida Department of Education have asked the court not to hear the case.

CEMETERY DISCOVERED: Researchers locate 145 caskets from a forgotten paupers burial ground beneath the campus of Hillsborough County’s King High School.

REASSIGNED: The Pasco County School Board approves new attendance boundaries that send about 1,000 east-county students to different schools. • The Marion County School Board okays new school zones that allows about 100 students to attend classes closer to home, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

LIFE LESSONS: Pinellas County’s Enterprise Village marks its 30th year teaching students about free enterprise.

CONTRACT TALKS: Hernando County teachers reach a deal for 4.25 percent raises, with non-instructional staff poised to earn 40 cents per hour more.

TOP TEACHERS: Ten finalists for Pinellas County Teacher of the Year are revealed. Orange and Seminole counties also announce their award finalists, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

SCHOOL DAYS: The Miami-Dade County school district explores ways to ensure no students begin classes before 8 a.m., the Miami Herald reports. Officials aim to implement new bell schedules next fall.

CHARTER FIGHT: Supporters of an embattled Brevard County charter school tagged for closure accuse the school district of bias in its decision, Florida Today reports.

IT’S A FELONY: The number of Florida students arrested for making threats of school violence has risen nearly 25 percent in three years, WPTV reports.

SCHOOL SECURITY: The Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office adds five new school guardians to its ranks, WCTV reports. The sheriff, initially opposed to the state program using armed school district employees, now praises the model. • The Palm Beach County school district plans to open a new substation for its growing police force, the Palm Beach Post reports. • A Duval County magnet school implements new security measures including metal detectors after a student is discovered on campus with a weapon and ammunition, the Florida Times-Union reports.

JEB’S CONFERENCE: A vocal Polk County School Board member objects to his district’s superintendent and lobbyist attending ExcelinEd’s annual education ‘reform’ conference, the Ledger reports. Billy Townsend argues that the event celebrates Florida’s ‘test and punish’ system and the district should not support it. The district is not paying for the superintendent’s trip.

BOARD POLITICS: The Brevard County School Board ignores its usual protocol in choosing its next chairman, skipping the vice chairman who sought the post, Florida Today reports. • The Broward County board selects its new leadership, Tap Into Parkland reports.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: Debate ensues over when the Sarasota County School Board should conduct its superintendent search, with some advocating a delay until board elections next fall, the Herald-Tribune reports.

SCIENCE LESSONS: A Pasco County high school becomes the first in the nation to use a type of synthetic frog to conduct dissection lessons, WFTS reports.

HEALTHY EATING: Several Volusia County schools use garden clubs to teach children about nutrition, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

TURNAROUNDS: A Clay County principal uses ‘cash’ incentives to encourage positive student behavior as her school aims to shed its low state grade, Clay Today reports.

BAD ACTS: A Duval County teacher set for reassignment becomes enraged and is arrested on charges of battery against a law enforcement officer, the Florida Times-Union reports. The school was placed on ‘Code Yellow’ because of the commotion.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. A vigil at Pine Trails Park in Parkland for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. Some schools have already closed for the holidays, but everyone should be off by the end of the day Dec. 20. [Times (2015)]
    Some schools are closing for the holidays this week; others won’t be done for a few days. Then it’s lights out until early January.
  3. This Feb. 19 photo shows a makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and faculty were killed in a mass shooting in Parkland. [AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File]
    The grand jury said districts are creating “unnecessary chaos” and have become “experts at data manipulation.”
  4. Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis with Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins and Sheriff Chad Chronister speaking at Hillsborough High School on Thursday, Dec. 12. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    If students feel supported, educators say, schools will be safer and more productive
  5. Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, presents his bill on civics education to the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee on Dec. 11, 2019. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘Democracy is not a spectator sport,’ sponsor Rep. Ben Diamond reminds colleagues.
  6. Haley Manigold, second from left, and Armwood High School classmates Maria Medina and Madison Harvey take a photo with Sen. Tom Lee, who is sponsoring their legislation, and teacher Tony Pirotta.  They presented their bill in the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 9, 2019. [EMILY L. MAHONEY  |  Times Staff]
    Armwood High senior Haley Manigold discusses her effort to convince lawmakers to adopt testing legislation.
  7. Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
    Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, said she thinks Republican leaders want to keep the number under wraps because it points to the controversial program’s “failure.”
  8. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
DL Tre'von Riggins (98) on the field during spring football practice at Lakewood High School in in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  9. In this file photo, Lakewood High School defensive lineman Tre'von Riggins (98) takes a moment during a spring football practice last April. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
    Measures to prevent heatstroke deaths were among the key items in a bill that unanimously passed its first committee on Wednesday.
  10. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer]
    The School Board will consider a $2.2 million package at its Dec. 17 meeting.