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Florida education news: Baker Act, angry teachers and a school officer’s pawned gun

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Staci Plonsky holds art from son A.J., who has autism, that depicts his memory of being taken by the school resource officer to a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act law. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Staci Plonsky holds art from son A.J., who has autism, that depicts his memory of being taken by the school resource officer to a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act law. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Dec. 9, 2019

BAKER ACT: The Baker Act was never intended to be used on children who act out in school. But it is increasing being used in Florida for this purpose.

PAWNED: A Hillsborough County school security officer is arrested after deputies learn he sold his district-issued weapon and carried a pellet gun in school instead. He also pawned his protective vest and weapon-mounted light, as he struggled financially.

TOP TEACHERS: Five Hillsborough County teachers are surprised to learn they are finalists for the district Teacher of the Year award.

ANGRY TEACHERS: A crowd of educators heckle Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran as he defends the state’s accountability and choice programs during a forum in Miami, WLRN reports.

PAY PLAN: State Senate Education chairman Manny Diaz Jr. files legislation create a line item in the budget specifically for teacher salary increases, Florida Politics reports. Districts that meet the state’s minimum goal would be able to use the funds for other operational expenses under the proposal.

ACHIEVEMENT GAP: Students of color in Volusia County have lower academic performance than their white peers, and experts say the district’s interventions are not doing enough, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

LEADERSHIP: Lake County schools superintendent Diane Kornegay is honored by the state’s association of education foundations for her ‘exceptional’ leadership, the Daily Commercial reports.

SECURITY: A Volusia County high school heightens security patrols after a campus fight ends with multiple student arrests, WOFL reports.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES: The Charlotte County school district brings more mental health counselors into schools to help students, the Charlotte Sun reports.

MORALE BOOST: A Lee County high school converts its teacher break room into a more vibrant activity lounge aimed at improving teachers’ morale. It’s one of several such efforts, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

FREE LUNCH: Most Charlotte County students who might lose food stamp eligibility still could qualify for free school lunch through the National School Lunch Program, the Charlotte Sun reports.

SICK SCHOOL: Hundreds of students stay home from their St. Johns County high school after a stomach virus outbreak, the Florida Times-Union reports.

CONTRACT TALKS: Orange County teachers ratify their latest contract agreement, after having rejected an earlier proposal, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

DRIVERS NEEDED: Several central Florida school districts are experiencing a slowdown in applications for bus driver jobs, WFTV reports.

GUNS ON CAMPUS: Two students at Hillsborough County’s Leto High are arrested on accusations of bringing a gun to school, WFLA reports.

FRAUD: The former head of a Monroe County elementary school’s parent-teacher organization is arrested on allegations of stealing nearly $10,000 from the organization, the Miami Herald reports.

‘DEATH LIST’: A Broward County 12-year-old is arrested on accusations she had created a ‘death list’ of people at her middle school, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  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.
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