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Florida education news: Civics lessons, school leaders and a blast of Axe

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Osceola Middle School civics teacher Mike Rivera of Largo does his vampire act to teach his seventh-grade students about the Bill of Rights recently.
Osceola Middle School civics teacher Mike Rivera of Largo does his vampire act to teach his seventh-grade students about the Bill of Rights recently.
Published Dec. 11, 2019

CIVICS: Gov. Ron DeSantis instructs the Florida Department of Education to have all high school seniors take a test based on citizenship and civics, saying Floridians don’t know enough about the nation’s foundations. “Younger Americans, people who are 25 and under, they lack basic knowledge of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, broader civics," DeSantis said. “We have to do better.”

STUDENT-ATHLETE SAFETY: The Florida House is poised to write new rules requiring improved protections, including coach training, for student athletes who train and play outdoors in the heat.

SCHOOL LEADERSHIP: One of Hillsborough County’s lower performing elementary schools needs a new principal after the abrupt departure of its leader appointed in 2018. The district approved several principal transfers at its business meeting.

CONTRACT TALKS: Negotiations for Pasco County teacher contract stall as one of the lead negotiators calls in sick. The delay makes it unlikely the sides will reach their goal of a deal before Christmas. • Collier County teachers strike a deal for their biggest raise in five years, the Naples Daily News reports.

AXE IN THE AIR: A Manatee County school bus is evacuated after a student sprays an excessive amount of Axe, Fox 13 reports.

SCHOOL CHOICE: Florida education department leaders tout the successes of choice programs during a hearing in the House Education committee, Florida Politics reports.

START TIMES: The Indian River County school district might reconsider school start times, to possibly start classes later in the day, TC Palm reports.

BRAWLING: At least 10 people are arrested as a major fight breaks out at a Brevard County high school just before classes let out for the day, Florida Today reports. • Sixteen students are arrested in several fights at an Alachua County high school, WOFL reports.

SUPERINTENDENTS: The Sarasota County School Board names its acting superintendent to take the interim role until they find a permanent replacement for recently resigned Todd Bowden, the Herald-Tribune reports. The board also votes to appeal a ruling that required it to pay for private schooling for a student found inappropriately placed in special education programs.

SPELLING BEE: The National Spelling Bee changes its entry rules after a Palm Beach County student was able to buy his way into the competition, the Palm Beach Post reports.

COSTLY COSTUME: The Broward County purchasing administrator who wore a flasher costume to an office Halloween party is suspended but not demoted as proposed, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

BUS ROUTES: Duval County school bus drivers protest a district decision to change busing contractors for several northside routes, saying it could jeopardize their employment, WJXT reports.

BAD ACTS: A Palm Beach County middle school teacher faces dismissal on accusations he made threats in front of students to kill someone, the Palm Beach Post reports.

TODAY: Senate Education Appropriations, 1:30 p.m. • House PreK-12 Innovation, 4 p.m. ​​​​​​​

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  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.