Florida schools roundup: Black student achievement, school threats and more

IMG_0001.JPGBlack achievement: A group of black activists say it’s time the Pinellas County School Board takes responsibility for the failure rate of black students, which is higher than almost every school district in Florida. The group, the Concerned Organization for Quality Education of Black Students, also discussed a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center that found black students were disciplined more harshly and were twice as likely to drop out of school as white students. Tampa Bay Times.

School threats: School districts in central and south Florida and Texas are the latest to receive threats against schools. None were deemed credible. Associated Press. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Flagler and Volusia school officials say they take threats seriously and follow a strict process in determining the credibility of the threats. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Critical audit: A state audit shows that Broward County’s school system is improperly placing students in special education programs and hiring teachers who don’t have the proper certifications. Sun-Sentinel.

Charter schools: Florida Charter Educational Foundation chairman Rod Jurado says his group will appeal the Pasco County School Board’s decision to reject his group’s application to start a charter school in the county. The group is affiliated with Charter Schools USA. Gradebook.

New magnet programs: Pasco County will launch magnet programs at two middle schools next fall that focus on science, technology, engineering and math. Tampa Bay Times.

Contract negotiations: The Hillsborough County School District and the teachers union reach an agreement that gives teachers the potential for performance pay and provides a small raise for classroom aides. Tampa Bay Times.

Whooping cough case: A student at Palm Beach Central High School is diagnosed with whooping cough, a highly contagious disease. He’s fine, but school and health officials quarantine seven classrooms. Palm Beach Post. Sun-Sentinel.

School start times: School districts around the nation increasingly are following the advice of scientists and moving to later start times for middle and high school. Research shows that later start times help combat sleep deprivation in teens and improve academic success, attendance and mental health. Associated Press.

Superintendent race: Former Baptist preacher Pete Anderson joins Heidi Maier in challenging Marion County School Superintendent George Tomyn for the elected position. All are Republicans. The election is next November. Ocala Star Banner.

Board member fined: Flagler County School Board Chairwoman Colleen Conklin is fined $1,500 by the state Commission on Ethics over the late filing of a financial disclosure form. She said it was misplaced in her car and she failed to send it in. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Dean retires: The former dean of students at Sebastian Middle School is retiring rather than return to a lesser job. Peter Sharman had been suspended for his use of physical force in removing a student from the cafeteria. St. Augustine Record.

Legal problems: A former North Miami Senior High School treasurer is arrested and accused of stealing about $79,000 from students while working at the school. WPLGPalm Beach Post. A Seabreeze High School student is arrested and accused of trying to sell drugs to an undercover police officer. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Opinions on schools: Gov. Rick Scott should come clean on the roles of state and local governments in paying for education improvements. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The waste of millions of dollars on failing charter school facilities is appalling. Gainesville Sun.

Student enrichment: Manatee High School’s Key Club installs a walking path at the United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida in Bradenton. Bradenton Herald. Venice High School students leaders make recommendations for updating the city to keep young people from moving away after high school or college. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Old Kings Elementary students team with i3 Academy ninth graders on a cookbook. Daytona Beach News-Journal.