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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.

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.