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Florida education news: Teacher rally (or is it a strike?), superintendent politics and a/c repairs

A roundup of stories from around the state.
Pinellas County teachers and their allies rallied at major intersections in 2012 to protest legislative proposals. On Monday, teachers from Pinellas and across Florida head to Tallahassee to make their views on public education clear to lawmakers about to begin their 2020 session.
Pinellas County teachers and their allies rallied at major intersections in 2012 to protest legislative proposals. On Monday, teachers from Pinellas and across Florida head to Tallahassee to make their views on public education clear to lawmakers about to begin their 2020 session.
Published Jan. 13

ARE THEY RALLYING? OR STRIKING? Teachers from across Florida plan to descend on the state Capitol today. They want their voices heard as lawmakers enter their 2020 legislative session. But school district leaders also want those voices in front of students, teaching on a class day. Different districts balanced the concerns in different ways. In Polk County, the district’s response was seen as a threat to teachers. Polk district leaders held a hastily called press conference Sunday to discuss their situation, the Ledger reports. Even presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have weighed in. More from the Ledger, WFTS, Spectrum 13, Florida Today

BEHIND THE SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: On its face, Hillsborough County’s superintendent search appears professional enough, with a headhunter reviewing resumes and bringing forward top applicants. But backroom politics are also at play, with furious campaigning and jockeying for School Board members’ attention. Throw in the racial factors of a push for the district’s first superintendent of color, and things just get more and more interesting. See some of the letters the board has been receiving for a taste.

TAMING THE BAKER ACT: Investigations found that Florida students were being involuntarily committed under the state’s Baker Act. Lawmakers want more controls, and they’ve filed legislation to put some restrictions on the 1970s law.

UNDER THE WIRE: There was a flurry of last-minute education bills as the filing deadline approached.

IF YOU DIDN’T GRADUATE, ARE YOU A DROPOUT? Florida’s formula for calculating its graduation rate also has a category for non-graduates, making the delineation a little more complicated than a simple split between graduate and dropout. • One Alachua County high school reported having 100 percent graduates, WCJB reports.

BRANDING CAMPAIGN: The Hernando County school district launches a new marketing effort, complete with logo and slogan, in an effort to win over community support.

NATIVE-LANGUAGE TESTING: Florida’s insistence on testing all students in English raises questions of fairness, TC Palm reports.

TOP TEACHERS: The Orange County school district names its 2020 teacher of the year, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The Sarasota County school district rounds out the Tampa Bay-area districts adopting a medical marijuana usage policy, WTSP reports. The board also took other actions, including approval of a contract for now superintendent Mitsi Corcoran, the Herald-Tribune reports.

MENTAL HEALTH: Volusia County middle and high school students will begin receiving monthly mental health lessons, as the district implements a new state requirement, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

FUNDING: State Sen. Kelli Stargel seeks to make permanent certain added temporary funding that 29 school districts received over the past two years, the Ledger reports.

COOL IT: The Palm Beach County school district kicks its air conditioning repair efforts into high gear, but some problems still remain, the Palm Beach Post reports.

VAPING: The Lee County School Board considers joining a growing lawsuit against e-cigarette maker Juul, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

HACKED: A Seminole County high school gets an unwanted new name in Google searches, Fox 35 reports.

TODAY: House Education, joint committee meeting to discuss payments to college athletes, 11:30 a.m. • Senate Education, 1 p.m. • FEA rally in Tallahassee, 1:30 p.m. • Senate Infrastructure and Security, 3:30 p.m.


  1. 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.
  2. Gov. Ron DeSantis. [STEVE CANNON  |  AP]
    Florida students will read more classical literature and learn math differently, according to summary documents.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Kurt Browning, left, is seeking a third term as superintendent of Pasco County schools. Addison Davis, right, is negotiating a contract to become Hillsborough County's next superintendent. [Tampa Bay Times (2016, 2020)]
    A Hillsborough search and Pasco election offer insights into the job and its importance.
  8. This time last year, Nicole Kenngatt, holding hands with student Lilly Crandall, was announced as Teacher of the Year. The award for the 2019-20 school year will be given Wednesday in a ceremony at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. [JAY NOLAN  |  Special to the Times]
    The winner for 2019-20 will be announced Wednesday during the Pinellas Education Foundation’s annual “Evening of Excellence.”
  9. An empty classroom at Bloomingdale High School in Hillsborough County. [Skip O'Rourke | Times] [SKIP O'ROURKE  |  Skip O'Rourke]
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. 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.