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Florida education news: Prayer, paddling and a lawsuit on transgender student rights

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Gulf Middle seventh graders Kendall Geraci and Gaby Perez look for matching t-shirts in the school's Treasure Chest, where everything is free for students who need it. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff]
Gulf Middle seventh graders Kendall Geraci and Gaby Perez look for matching t-shirts in the school's Treasure Chest, where everything is free for students who need it. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK | Times Staff]
Published Dec. 2, 2019

SCHOOL PRAYER: State Rep. Kimberly Daniels submits legislation that would require all Florida public schools to hold a daily moment of silence for ‘reflection,’ the News Service of Florida reports.

HELPING HANDS: Pasco County’s Gulf Middle School offers its students free clothing, school supplies and other items to help them feel prepared for school.

TRANSGENDER ISSUES: A panel of federal judges prepares to hear a St. Johns County case that will offer guidance on how schools in Florida, Georgia and Alabama deal with transgender student access to restrooms and locker rooms, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The Dec. 5 hearing comes as Florida’s culture wars on the issue intensify. Some Pasco County parents say their district’s LGBTQ protections are coming under attack, WFLA reports. A north Florida conservative group holds rallies and events, saying there should be no such thing as an LGBTQ-friendly school, WUSF reports. A group of Flagler County parents ask their district to improve transgender student rights in schools, WKMG reports.

FREE LUNCH: About 200,000 Florida school children could lose access to federally subsidized school lunches under a proposal to change the program from President Trump’s administration, the Miami Herald reports.

TEACHER PAY: Osceola County teachers take to the streets to call for improved state funding for public education, including higher teacher pay, Spectrum 13 reports. • Many teacher organization leaders and individual teachers are critical of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposal to boost the state’s minimum pay for educators, the News Service of Florida reports. • Orange County teachers prepare to vote on a second contract proposal after having rejected the first offer, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

EVALUATIONS: The Miami-Dade County school district looks into a different way to determine whether teachers affect their students’ academic outcomes, the Miami Herald reports.

MATH LESSONS: Orange County high schools fall short of their goal to get more minority students to take high level math courses such as calculus, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

LANDSCAPING: The Brevard County school district rents a tribe of goats to attack an overgrown piece of land that machines can’t handle, the Associated Press reports.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT: New legislation would allow Florida schools to paddle students, but only if they can get parental permission, WBBH reports. Currently that permission is not required.

REZONING: The Brevard County school district tests a new model of setting attendance zones for a new school, to give families more choice in where they attend, Florida Today reports.

TURNAROUNDS: A Putnam County elementary school with low state test scores turns to academic teaming to help boost student performance, eSchool News reports. • A struggling St. Lucie County elementary school comes under district management after failing to improve its state grade, TC Palm reports.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Brevard County school district administrators and board members spend a day substitute teaching, Space Coast Daily reports.

TOP JOB: Former Seminole County superintendent Bill Vogel says he won’t be an empty suit if selected as Sarasota County’s interim leader, the Herald-Tribune reports. • Indian River County’s new superintendent begins his job on Monday, TC Palm reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: The Florida Board of Education overrides the Volusia County School Board’s rejection of a charter school application, paving the way for the school to open, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

HOMECOMING: The daughter of migrant farm workers in rural Collier County now leads a school in the community where she grew up, showing a new generation of children they can find success, the Naples Daily News reports.

LEGAL COUNSEL: Marion County’s school district lawyer takes a similar job in Brevard County, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

FIGHTING BACK: A Pasco County school resource officer who was fired after his gun fired in a crowded school cafeteria plans to challenge his dismissal, Fresh Take Florida reports.

VAPING: The Palm Beach County school district joins a growing lawsuit against e-cigarette makers, the Palm Beach Post reports.

OPIOIDS: The Miami-Dade County school district seeks other urban school districts to join its legal battle against opioid manufacturers and distributors, WLRN reports.


  1. From left, Don Haddad, Peter Licata and Addison Davis, all finalists for the job of Hillsborough County school superintendent, met Thursday with community members at Rampello K-8 School. The School Board will choose among the three on Tuesday. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
    Addison Davis, Don Haddad and Peter Licata outline their plans for the first 90 days.
  2. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    A man university police believe was target shooting near campus was not located, the university said.
  3. Former state senator John Legg has not ruled out a run for Pasco County schools superintendent. The district is the nation's largest to elect its chief executive.
    Short answer: Maybe.
  4. But the competition isn’t who many people expected it to be.
  5. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. A point tally ranking the three finalists to be Hillsborough County's next school superintendent shows up on a screen in the School Board meeting room Thursday after a meeting that lasted most of the day. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
    The last round of interviews is set for Jan. 21.
  7. Rep. Stan McClain, an Ocala Republican, presents a bill that would allow Florida public colleges and universities to sponsor charter schools, during a January 2020 meeting of the House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    Alternative authorizers have been found unconstitutional in the past. But that isn’t stopping the effort.
  8. Thousands rallied and marched from the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center to the Florida Historic Capitol to demand more money for public schools Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Thousands of school workers from around the state thronged Florida's Capitol on Monday to press Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature to more than double the nearly $1 billion the governor is proposing for teacher raises and bonuses.  (Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat via AP) [TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER  |  AP]
    The PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee cutting exercise would come in nearly 25 percent below Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposal.
  9. Cocoa Police Department video shows A.J. Plonsky being taken to a mental health facility under the Florida Baker Act on his first day of middle school, August 10, 2018.  [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times]
    Never intended to be used on children, the 1970s law in increasingly applied in schools.
  10. Assisted by the Ray and Associates search firm, the Hillsborough County School Board is hiring a new superintendent. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.