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Florida education news: ‘Do not hire’ lists, new scholarships and a Blaine Amendment battle

A roundup of stories from around the state.
An empty classroom at Bloomingdale High School in Hillsborough County. [Skip O'Rourke | Times] [SKIP O'ROURKE  |  Skip O'Rourke]
An empty classroom at Bloomingdale High School in Hillsborough County. [Skip O'Rourke | Times] [SKIP O'ROURKE | Skip O'Rourke]
Published Jan. 23

DO NOT HIRE: Folks used to derisively call it “passing the trash.” That was when a school system would let an employee quit in lieu of firing over a sometimes egregious act, leaving that worker free to take a job in a different unsuspecting district. Florida lawmakers want to put an end to that, and have advanced legislation to create a “do not hire” list that particularly targets school staff who have been involved in sexual misconduct. “Today we have an opportunity to protect our students from sexual predators,” said Rep. Ralph Massullo.

ELECTED VS. APPOINTED: A House panel gives the thumbs up to a bill that would change Duval County’s school superintendent job to an elected post, Florida Politics reports. More from the Florida Times-Union.

SCHOLARSHIPS: Florida lawmakers propose a new scholarship to support students seeking an associate’s degree or job certification at a state college. Recipients would have to work in Florida for the same length of time that they used the funds, Center Square reports. More from the Sun-Sentinel. • A House panel also gave an initial nod to a scholarship to support students who attend historically black colleges and universities in the state, the News Service of Florida reports.

BLAINE AMENDMENT CHALLENGE: The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on Montana’s tax credit scholarship program, which was much like Florida’s, and signals a readiness to make it easier to use public money to support religious schooling, the Associated Press reports.

POST-SECONDARY FUNDING: Florida House members consider reducing the amount spent on grants to students attending private colleges and universities in the state, Florida Politics reports.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT POLICIES: After losing two top officials in the aftermath of a sexual harassment investigation, the Sarasota County School Board is exploring ways to improve its policies for handling such cases, the Herald-Tribune reports. The board has hired an outside expert to offer advice.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: The race for Clay County superintendent, where the incumbent is no longer in the running, gets another candidate as a local math teacher jumps into the race, Clay Today reports.

LABOR UNIONS: A House committee reports favorably on a bill that would require public employees, such as teachers, to formally renew their union membership annually. Some observers consider it union-busting legislation, Florida Politics reports.

TODAY: Senate Appropriations, 10 a.m. (Athletic trainers) • House Education, 12 p.m. (Parental rights, student athletes) • Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining, 2:30 p.m.

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup

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  1. Jarvis Delon West was arrested on child neglect charges after he didn't report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police.
  2. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  3. Prekindergarten students at James B. Sanderlin IB World School in St. Petersburg, show the peace sign during an assembly in 2012. New state data show children in prekindergarten are better prepared for kindergarten than those who don't attend.
  4. Leon County fifth-grader Ingrid Hanley asks the Senate Education Committee not to adopt legislation that would get tougher on D-rated schools, during a Feb. 17, 2020, session.
  5. Nadia King, 6, is smiles for a photo. The special-needs student was taken from school Feb. 4 and placed in a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act, and now her mother and a team of attorneys are asking why.
  6. The Voluntary Prekindergarten room is one feature of the new Bardmoor Branch of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. The location also includes a child-care center and Preschool Academy.
  7. FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus. School districts continue to improve their security plans in the aftermath. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)
  8. Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis (wearing a pink tie), center, takes photos with the  Hillsborough County Public Schools board members after being voted unaminous as the new incoming superintendent in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
  9. University of Florida students walk through Turlington Plaza in between classes on Thursday afternoon, February 13, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla.
  10. Chikara Parks, right, along with her children in front of their home in St. Petersburg. In the back is Kamijah Laswon, 14. In front of Kamijah is her sister Tanijah Clark, 12. Their brothers are 7-year-old Tai'jon Carter, left, and Dai'quan Carbart, 9. The four children used to attend Pinellas public schools. Now they are in private schools, using Florida's tax credit scholarship program. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  11. Florida Board of Education member Michael Olenick speaks during a July 17, 2019, board meeting in Polk County. [The Florida Channel]
  12. A new house under construction in Waterset on Big Bend Road in Hillsborough County's Apollo Beach area. Developed by Newland Communities, which also developed Fishhawk Ranch  in Hillsborough, Waterset has had more housing starts in the past year than any other new-home community in the Tampa Bay area. [SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times]
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