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Florida education news: School overhauls, a superintendent election, and a charter school’s lawsuit

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Mittye P. Locke Elementary School in New Port Richey was recommended for closure by the Pasco school district administration. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Mittye P. Locke Elementary School in New Port Richey was recommended for closure by the Pasco school district administration. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published Nov. 22

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: Pasco County school district leaders have talked for a year about changes needed to bring several of their academically struggling west-side schools up to par. School Board members who rejected a major overhaul in early 2019 now say they’re ready to revisit the issue. “With additional very serious reflection, I believe that some bold and decisive actions are warranted now,” board member Alison Crumbley said.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: A Pasco County high school principal launches his bid to unseat the sitting district superintendent in the 2020 election. Hudson High leader Dave LaRoche, a 30-year district educator, says he knows it’s risky to take on the boss, but “I’m doing something I believe is the right thing to do.”

CHARTER LAWSUIT: A Collier County charter school that nearly lost its contract over financial and other troubles sues the former board member who the school’s officials say caused many of the problems, WZVN reports.

NEW SCHOOLS: The Walton County school district prepares to open its first STEAM magnet school, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports. • St. Lucie County is poised to get a second charter high school, TC Palm reports.

GRADUATION RATES: Students in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program see a slight decline in their graduation rate, Redefined reports.

FAREWELLS: The Osceola County School Board gives chief of staff for teaching Scott Fritz a sendoff as he departs to become Volusia County schools superintendent, Positively Osceola reports.

LOCKED DOWN: Six Palm Beach County schools — one of which was expecting a visit from First Lady Casey DeSantis — go into Code Red lockdowns as police search for a man with a pellet gun nearby, the Sun-Sentinel reports. SECURITY: Manatee County law enforcement will provide extra support to Lakewood Ranch High School after an online threat is posted, the Bradenton Herald reports.

FIRE DAMAGE: Manatee Elementary School in Bradenton suffers smoke and water damage after an early morning electrical fire in one of its buildings, the Herald-Tribune reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup

HOLIDAY NOTE: With the vast majority of schools and agencies closed for the Thanksgiving week, this daily roundup will go on break, too. We’ll bring you updates as they happen. But as you might notice above, the stories are few as everyone has an eye toward time with family and friends. So the reports won’t be as regular. Enjoy your holiday!


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    The sides have not set a new date for negotiations.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.