Florida schools roundup: Pledge notices, test troubles, school threats and more

florida-roundup-logoPledge of Allegiance: A Florida House committee approves a bill that would give school districts options on how and where to post notice of a student’s right not to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school. Objections to prominent disclaimer notices in classrooms in Santa Rosa County schools prompted the bill. Miami Herald. Politico Florida.

Testing troubles: About 15 percent of Florida students say they had computer problems during the Florida Standards Assessments testing last spring, according to the Department of Education. Orlando Sentinel.

School threats: Experts talk about the uptick in school threats across the United States, how real the threats are, how they’re being made and how schools might respond. Mother Jones.

Teacher evaluations: Of the 54,000 teacher evaluations done in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties from 2010-2015, only 18 were rated as unsatisfactory, according to the Department of Education. Sun-Sentinel. In Orange County, the number of teachers rated highly effective drops from 81.2 percent to 2.4 percent. Across the state, 98 percent of teachers are rated either effective or highly effective. Orlando Sentinel.

Loan forgiveness: A study by the Center for Analysis and Longitudinal Data in Education Research finds that teachers who get loan forgiveness in return for working in high-need areas stay on the job longer than other teachers. GoodCall News.

No-tobacco zones: Brevard County schools are eliminating the use of all forms of tobacco on all school properties, officials announce. WKMG.

Lawsuit revival: The Concerned Organization for Quality Education of Black Students is asking to restart a class-action lawsuit on behalf of black students against the Pinellas County School Board. The suit alleges the board hasn’t done enough to close the achievement gap between the county’s black students and non-black students. Tampa Bay Times.

Superintendent cleared: Polk County School Superintendent Kathryn LeRoy is cleared of any wrongdoing by a law firm hired to look into a complaint by Associate Superintendent Greg Rivers. The report did urge that all top administrators undergo sexual harassment training. Lakeland Ledger.

Prayer dispute: The Freedom From Religion Foundation, in a letter to the Florida High School Athletics Association, supports the FHSAA’s decision to deny the use of a public address system for a pregame prayer at a football game between two Christian schools. One of the schools is threatening to sue the FHSAA if it doesn’t get a public apology. Gradebook.

School uniforms: A week after adding blue jeans to the list of acceptable clothing for the district’s proposed move to school uniforms, the school board is reconsidering. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Class sizes: Three Lake County elementary schools are over the mandated class sizes, school officials say. The district paid a fine of $5,602 last year for being out of compliance. Daily Commercial.

Negotiations stall: The Seminole County School District and its four unions are at an impasse, according to school officials. The sides can continue bargaining after an impasse is declared, or a federal mediator or magistrate could be asked to help resolve the deadlock. Orlando Sentinel.

School changes: The Duval County School Board votes today on Superintendent Nikolai Vitti’s plan for rezonings and program changes at several schools. Florida Times-Union.

School opening delayed: Problems with soil on the site of a new K-8 school in Audubon Park will delay the opening of the school by a year. Orlando Sentinel.

Community school: The proposal for a community school in Tallahassee is stalled by conflicting goals. A community school offers, among other things, wellness services, medical care, financial literacy courses and a food pantry. Tallahassee Democrat.

School graffiti: Exterior walls at Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School in Davie are painted with anti-gay slurs, and police are investigating. Sun-Sentinel.

Mom/substitute: Jen Brown, a Dwyer High School English teacher fighting cancer, knows her classes are in good hands while she misses time for chemotherapy. Her mother, Jane Brown, is doing the substituting. Palm Beach Post.

Teacher killed: Sandra Cook, a Rockledge High School math teacher and a finalist for the Brevard County Teacher of the Year, is shot dead in her home Monday. Her estranged husband’s body was also found. Police are not yet calling it a murder-suicide, but say they aren’t looking for any suspects. Florida Today.

Student arrested: A 14-year-old Leon County High School student is arrested for bringing a gun to school Monday. Police are investigating whether the incident is related to a fire in a storage room at 10:15 a.m. that closed the school for the rest of the day and today. Tallahassee Democrat. A 14-year-old Deland High School student is held for a mental evaluation after he threatened to shoot students at the school. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Opinions on schools: A bill to allow cities to form their own school districts is fraught with potential problems, and ought to be discarded. Tampa Tribune.

Student enrichment: Construction technologies students at Immokalee Technical Center are restoring a 1919 German boxcar that was probably used to transport to transport Jews to concentration camps during World War II. Naples Daily News. Students at Miami-Dade’s Learning Experience School, which serves children and adults with developmental disabilities, are trying to raise money at their 23rd annual fashion show so the school can expand. Miami Herald.