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Florida education news: Teacher bonuses, violent students and teens’ testing bill

A roundup of stories from around the state.

TEACHER INCENTIVES: The Florida Senate takes its first steps toward repealing the state’s controversial ‘Best and Brightest’ teacher bonus, which has been criticized by teachers since its inception. Many educators have suggested the state return to rewarding those who earn National Board certification. Numbers in that program have dwindled after lawmakers stopped funding added pay for earning the recognition.

BAKER ACT: The numbers of Florida students deemed a threat to themselves or others and involuntarily removed from school under the Baker Act has increased dramatically over the past five years. The 1971 law isn’t being used as originally envisioned.

THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW: Three students from Hillsborough County’s Armwood High School lobby lawmakers to ease testing requirements for teens still learning English. Their proposal wins unanimous approval at its first Senate stop.

FREE LUNCH PROGRAM: Hundreds of Pasco County school district employees are found to have misstated their income levels to qualify for federally funded free lunches. One of them was the person assigned to verify eligibility for the program.

STUDENT VIOLENCE: A push for ‘inclusion’ allows potentially violent students with disabilities to attend regular classes even though their districts don’t have the resources to provide the supports they need, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Many school employees have been injured.

COSTLY COSTUME: A Broward County schools purchasing administrator could be demoted, with a $44,000 pay cut, after she comes to work for Halloween dressed as a flasher, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

SCHOOL BELLS: Some Palm Beach County parents want their school district to consider starting classes later in the day, but have run into roadblocks, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

LEGAL BILLS: The Sarasota County school district is preparing a legal strategy in the wake of a determination that more than 100 students were wrongly placed in a special education program, the Herald-Tribune reports.

IN COURT: A Brevard County family sues the school district, saying it failed to protect their child from sexual abuse in school, Florida Today reports. • The Seminole County school district is considering whether to join a growing lawsuit against e-cigarette makers, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A new Okaloosa County charter school, the first high school ever in the city of Destin, begins accepting student applications, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

FUNDING: A House committee gives initial approval to three dozen education appropriations bills, Florida Politics reports.

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: The Martin County School Board discusses qualifications for its first appointed superintendent, TC Palm reports.

LEGAL COUNSEL: Marion County’s School Board attorney will quit two weeks earlier than expected to take a similar post in Brevard County, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

AWARDS: The Lee County school district announces its principal and assistant principal of the year, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

BAD ACTS: A Collier County teaching assistant is arrested and fired amid allegations of having sex with students and providing them drugs, the Naples Daily News reports.

TODAY: House Education, 9:30 a.m. • House Higher Education Appropriations, 12:30 p.m. • Gov. Ron DeSantis makes an education policy announcement in Naples at 1 p.m.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup