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Florida education news: Policy priorities, superintendent search, and a lunch debt repaid

A roundup of stories from around the state.
The Florida Legislature so far has has left Gov. Ron DeSantis to set most education policy priorities for 2020.
The Florida Legislature so far has has left Gov. Ron DeSantis to set most education policy priorities for 2020.
Published Dec. 4, 2019

LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES: In its final meeting before session, the Florida Senate Education Committee will take up bills by key members relating to teacher hiring, career education, testing and bonuses. So far, lawmakers have been mostly content to let Gov. Ron DeSantis set the stage for education policy legislation, and the governor says he has plans to unveil even more proposals soon, the News Service of Florida reports.

TOP TEACHER: Gulf High School economics teacher Jennifer Dixon is Pasco County’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.

VOUCHERS: Step Up For Students will host a viewing of a film honoring a Washington D.C. family’s fight for vouchers at the Tampa Theater, with the subject of the film available for a talk afterward.

SARASOTA’S SEARCH: The man expected to become interim superintendent of Sarasota County schools unexpectedly removes his name from consideration, the Herald-Tribune reports.

SCHOOL LUNCH: An anonymous donor pays off all students’ outstanding lunchroom debts for the entire Leon County school district, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

SECURITY: State Rep. Kimberly Daniels files a bill to require any school district with a police force to hire chiefs with contracts of at least three years, Florida Politics reports.

TURNAROUNDS: The Marion County School Board remains undecided how to proceed with Evergreen Elementary School, already under outside operator control, if it does not improve its state accountability grade this year, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. • Clay County’s only D-rated school adds a new mentorship program to help its lowest performing students improve, WJXT reports.

INPUT WANTED: Parents and residents of Alachua County’s Westwood Middle School community complain that district officials did not consult them in making plans that will affect the campus, the Gainesville Sun reports. More from WUFT.

LEADERSHIP: A Flagler County elementary school gets a new interim principal after the previous school leader resigned, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • The principal and an assistant principal of a Lee County Catholic school unexpectedly resign within six days of one another, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

LEGAL EXPENSES: The Palm Beach County school district might pay a charter school company $75,000 to cover costs associated with a school security lawsuit the district lost, the Palm Beach Post reports.

TEACHER DISCIPLINE: The Florida Education Practices Commission found a Manatee County kindergarten teacher verbally and physically abused students. The district allowed the teacher to retire, maintaining her state pension, rather than fire her, the Bradenton Herald reports.

BAD ACTS: An Escambia County special education teacher is arrested on accusations she had sex hundreds of times with one of her son’s teenage friends, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. • A Brevard County teacher is arrested on allegations he had a sexual relationship with a student, Florida Today reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. State Rep. Wyman Duggan, a Jacksonville Republican, presents his bill to create a "do not hire" list for any school employee who has been terminated, or resigned in lieu of termination, from employment as a result of sexual misconduct with a student. [The Florida Channel]
    The measure would apply to district, charter and private schools.
  2. Students grieve at Pine Trails Park, near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., one month to the day since 17 students and staff were shot dead there, March 14, 2018. [SAUL MARTINEZ  |  New York Times]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. Addison Davis, the superintendent of Clay County District Schools, was chosen Tuesday as the new Hillsborough County school superintendent. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The School Board’s vote is unanimous for Davis, who calls himself “an accelerator.”
  4. In this Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File) [MIKE STOCKER  |  AP]
    But this year’s bill may provoke fewer fireworks than the bitter debates seen in the past two sessions.
  5. Rep. Anthony Sabatini presents his bill to create school board term limits to the Florida House PreK-12 Innovation subcommittee on Jan. 21, 2020. [The Florida Channel]
    The idea would require a three-fifths vote in each chamber before it could appear on the ballot.
  6. Left to Right: Ryan Petty and Andrew Pollack talk about the death of their daughters during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland before a meeting in the Capitol in Tallahassee. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times] [Scott Keeler]
    Ryan Petty replaces Andrew Pollack, both Parkland parents. Pollack recently moved to Oregon.
  7. Pat Hall of the League of Women Voters speaks with Addison Davis, a finalist for Hillsborough Schools Superintendent, on Jan. 16 at Rampello K-8 School in Tampa. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
    In a last-minute push, members of the League of Women Voters want the School Board to explore Addison Davis’ possible ties to Charter Schools USA.
  8. Michael Maine is the Hernando County School District senior recruiter. [Hernando County School District]
    The district has on average 39 teacher openings.
  9. Carrie Wilson, a counselor at Challenger K-8 school, was named the 2020 teacher of the year for the Hernando County School District. [Hernando County School District]
  10. Children participate in a sorting exercise during activities in a pre-K  class in Tampa.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.