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Florida education news: Grand jury report, civics and a push for parental consent in testing

A roundup of stories from around the state.
A vigil at Pine Trails Park in Parkland for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald
A vigil at Pine Trails Park in Parkland for victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald
Published Dec. 13, 2019

SECURITY UPDATE: A special grand jury says several Florida school districts play games with their crime incident data — specifically mentioning Miami-Dade and Broward counties — and that stricter penalties are needed to ensure compliance with the state’s school security laws. More from the Associated Press. See also the full report.

CIVICS: A Florida House committee advances legislation to create a high school civics practicum program, saying students would better learn the topic by actively participating in it. For more on students and civics, hear our podcast interview with Armwood High senior Haley Manigold, who’s working with other students to try to get a law passed through the Legislature.

MENTAL HEALTH: Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis visits at Tampa school to unveil her latest proposals to help students who feel isolated in school. “It might seem simplistic,” she said. “But really, something as simple as saying hello, how are you doing, are you doing okay, you want to sit with me? ... can change everything.”

TESTING: Schools would need parental consent to administer state tests to students under new legislation filed by Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, Florida Politics reports.

SCHOOL DAYS: The Broward County school district joins the list of districts giving students a full week off for Thanksgiving, starting next year, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

NEW WHEELS: The Okaloosa County school district gets nine new cars for driver education, courtesy of a state fine on driving violations, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

VAPING: The Indian River County school district considers installing vape sensors to help curtail the growing usage, but privacy concerns arise, TC Palm reports.

TOP TEACHERS: Leon County names its 2020 Teacher of the Year, WCTV reports.

PAY FREEZE: Polk County school-related employees won’t be getting raises this year, as the School Board approves a new contract without extra wages, the Ledger reports.

READING LESSONS: A grassroots Alachua County group pushes to have a new literacy program used in after-school activities as a way to overcome the district’s achievement gap, WUFT reports.

NIMBY: Some Santa Rosa County residents complain about the school district’s purchase of 41 acres for a new school near their community, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Leon County school district officials continue to grapple with the details of a policy to permit medical marijuana usage in schools, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

COMMUNITY SCHOOLS: A Clay County high school prepares to adopt the community partnership model for the coming year, Clay Today reports.

ON THE MOVE: Hillsborough County assistant superintendent Tricia McManus takes a similar role in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school district in North Carolina, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.

BAD ACTS: An Okaloosa County middle school teacher is arrested on allegations of lewd acts with a student, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports. • A Lee County high school student is arrested on a probation violation after lighting up and smoking in class, WINK reports. • A Manatee County private school teacher resigns amid an investigation that he sent inappropriate photos to a student, the Herald-Tribune reports.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup


  1. Florida lawmakers have introduced legislation aimed at improving the outcomes of the state's prekindergarten program. Some critics suggest the proposed solutions, such as added testing, go too far.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. Victoria Arriaga, left, does a letter-matching activity during Priscilla Perez's pre-kindergarten class at West Tampa Elementary School. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
    The 148-page bill would lead to a new ‘grading’ system for prekindergarten providers, so parents can better choose programs for their toddlers.
  3. Pasco County's Fivay High School has added new security measures to keep the peace on campus. [JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
    Parents want to see more control of the campus.
  4. Hillsborough County Chief of Schools Harrison Peters, speaking with students here at Potter Elementary School, is a the choice to become superintendent of Providence, R.I., schools. [Times file (2016)]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. Harrison Peters, Chief of Schools in Hillsborough County, has landed a job as superintendent in Providence, R.I. [HCPS  |  Handout]
    Peters will become a turnaround superintendent at a troubled district.
  6. Gov. Ron DeSantis. [STEVE CANNON  |  AP]
    Florida students will read more classical literature and learn math differently, according to summary documents.
  7. Janessa Horsford, 5, says goodbye to her parents, Julytsa and Nigel Horsford, on her first day of kindergarten at Lake Magdalene Elementary School.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  8. Miranda Harwood, a fourth-grade math teacher at Brooker Elementary School, is the Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year. [Hillsborough County Public Schools]
    The self-described “data queen” uses humor to keep her students engaged.
  9. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    Five girls and one boy will face charges after lunchtime fights disrupted the Pasco County campus, according to the school district.
  10. State Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, presents legislation to create a new chapter of Florida law dedicated to parents' rights when dealing with government and other agencies, during a committee meeting Jan. 23, 2020. [The Florida Channel]
    Parents have been marginalized by bureaucracy, and need to be empowered in law, sponsor Rep. Erin Grall says.