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Florida education news: University mergers, lockdown decisions and a teacher’s ill-advised comments

A roundup of stories from around the state.

CLASSROOM CONTROL: The Broward County art teacher told a late student to stop running on “Latin time,” observing that Florida operates on “American time.” The student complained. Others joined in, saying the teacher yelled at them and said things derogatory to Hispanics. The school district tried to suspend her. An administrative law judge had other things in mind.

STILL A ‘FAILURE FACTORY’? Pinellas County school district officials say long-struggling Lakewood Elementary School is on the rise. They want another year to continue their turnaround effort. Now it’s up to the State Board of Education to decide whether the district or a charter company can do a better job there.

TERM LIMITS: As Florida senators narrowly advance a bill that could establish school board term limits, two of them invoke the idea of choice. One to say term limits would provide voters more choices, the other to say essentially the opposite.

SCHOOL CHOICE: Several Pasco County parents complain when their children are placed on a wait list to attend Wiregrass Ranch High, which they attended until a recent redrawing of school boundaries. It was all a big miscommunication.

HIGHER ED BOMBSHELL: State Rep. Randy Fine proposes to merge two of Florida’s smallest universities into two of the biggest, Florida Politics reports. Florida Polytechnic would become part of UF and New College a satellite of FSU. “We have an obligation to taxpayers to generate degrees at the lowest possible cost. Unfortunately, degrees earned from Florida Poly and New College cost an order of magnitude more than they do at the other 10 universities,” said Fine, who heads the chamber’s Higher Education Appropriations committee. More from the Herald-Tribune.

LOCKDOWN DECISIONS: A shooting takes place in Miami. A boutique school almost a mile away goes into lockdown. Two closer neighborhood schools don’t. What’s up with that? The Miami Herald reports on the discrepancies.

BILLS ON THE MOVE: Another Florida House committee advances legislation to require public schools hold a daily moment of silence, Florida Politics reports. • A Senate committee offered cautionary approval of a bill that would allow college athletes to be paid for the use of their likenesses, the News Service of Florida reports.

ANGRY MOM: A Duval County mother is demanding answers after her six-year-old was involuntarily Baker Acted at school, the Florida Times-Union reports.

SEEKING SAFETY: A new high-security charter school is in the works just up the street from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

HEALTHY SCHOOLS: Manatee County opens its first school-based health clinic at Southeast High, the Herald-Tribune reports. “Having this collaborative venture on campus allows our students the opportunity to continue with their instructional day while having their health care needs met," said Southeast High School Principal Rosa Faison.

OPEN ARMS: Volusia County schools welcome 33 students arriving from Puerto Rico after earthquakes close their schools at home, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

TODAY: Senate Judiciary, 2 p.m. (SB 1476 virtual education) • House Appropriations, 4 p.m. (HB 7065 school safety)

ICYMI: Yesterday’s Florida education news roundup

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