Florida schools roundup: Sensors for helmets, top teacher finalists and more

florida-roundup-logoNew helmet technology: The Flagler County School District is purchasing new helmet-based impact technology that monitors hits to the heads of high school football players. It’s the first district in Florida to buy the Riddell InSite Impact Response System, which electronically alerts coaches and athletic trainers on the sidelines when a player takes a significant hit. Sensors are placed in the front, both sides, top and back of the helmet. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Top teacher finalists: Amy Miller, a math and science coach at Kissimmee Elementary School, is one of five finalists for Florida Teacher of the Year. The winner will be announced in July. Orlando Sentinel. Jessica Solano, a third grade math teacher at Lakeland’s Highlands Grove Elementary School, is also named a finalist for the award. Lakeland Ledger.

Magnets for failing schools: Magnet programs would be placed at six failing Pinellas County elementary schools if the school board approves a proposal by the group trying to turn around the schools. Some black community leaders say the programs could boost the schools’ grades from the state but may not help the neighborhood children who need it the most. Tampa Bay Times.

Sales tax hike: The Palm Beach County School Board is threatening to pull out of an agreement with the County Commission to ask voters for a 1-cent sales tax hike. Members are angry that the commission cut funding for cultural projects. School board members say if the differences can’t be resolved, they may ask voters for a half-cent sales tax strictly for schools. Palm Beach PostSun-Sentinel.

Discipline changes: A new code of discipline starts this summer in the Lee County School District. Restorative justice tries to show students the impact of their misbehavior and offers them ways to right their wrongs through apologies, mediation and community service instead of suspensions and arrests. Fort Myers News-Press.

District, FHSAA sued: The family of Kendalle Holley is suing the Orange County School District and the Florida High School Athletic Association over a traumatic head injury the East River High School lacrosse player suffered during a game in 2015. After being hit in the head by a stick, she wasn’t evaluated and continued to play. After the game she got sick. The lawsuits alleges the delay in diagnosing the concussion made her symptoms worse, causing her to miss school and leading to falling grades. USA Today.

Police chief changes mind: The acting chief and major of the Broward County School District police department said Wednesday they were stepping away from their jobs, then later changed their minds. Previously, acting chief Fred Davenport complained that he was being blamed for the department’s problems even though he’s only been the chief for two months, and major Edward Costello agreed. Sun-Sentinel.

Disparity discussion: The African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County Inc. hosts its State of Education in Alachua County Community Dialogue. The school district is considered one of the best in the state, but Dr. Brianna Kennedy-Lewis, an assistant professor of education at the University of Florida, presented data to the group showing that black students performed worse than their black peers in the state and much worse than white students in the county and state. Gainesville Sun.

School for disabled: Southeastern University in Lakeland is starting a school to serve physically and intellectually disabled students in grades 6-12 and beyond. Pathways School of Excellence is expected to open in the fall with about 30 students. Lakeland Ledger.

Retiring staff: More than 200 teachers and 100 support staff are retiring from the Sarasota County School District. It’s the most in nine years, say school officials. In Manatee County, about 200 school staffers are retiring, including 92 teachers. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Bring your devices: The St. Johns County School District may ask students to bring their own electronic devices to school next year so the district can meet a state requirement to have enough devices to test the largest grade level at any time on the same day. The district says it doesn’t have the money to buy enough devices. St. Augustine Record.

Superintendent finalist: Jesus Jara, deputy superintendent for the Orange County School District, is one of six finalists for the superintendent’s job in Nashville. Orlando Sentinel.

More fighting: A 17-year-old boy is arrested after punching a girl at Leesburg High School and sending her to the hospital. He also had a stun gun, police say. The school has been the site of several other confrontations lately that triggered a search for solutions at a community meeting. Daily Commercial. Orlando Sentinel. Students and parents say administrators at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale are not doing enough to curb fighting and bullying at the school. WPLG.

Charter concerns: South Miami commissioners are concerned about traffic and other issues if Somerset Academy’s proposed K-12 charter school on Southwest 72nd Street is approved. Miami Herald.

New job for teacher: Michael Maynard, a highly regarded Pasco County AP teacher who was disciplined for making harsh and inappropriate comments to students, is being transferred to another school with a warning from district officials: Change your classroom behavior or find another profession. Gradebook.

Ex-teacher sentenced: Dennis Dean Turner, a former teacher at Edgewood Junior/Senior High in Merritt Island, is sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexual battery of a student. Florida Today.

Band booster arrested: A volunteer treasurer for the St. Cloud High School’s band program booster club is arrested and accused of charging more than $5,000 of personal expenses on the club’s credit card. Lora Gordon, 43, used the card at least 68 times, police say. Orlando Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: Math education needs to show math as an art, with patterns that can be found, connections that can be made, relevant and irrelevant questions that can be answered, and logical thinking that can be used. Hilla Rogel, Miami Herald. The Palm Beach County Commission’s decision to cut cultural and economic development projects from the proposed 1-cent sales tax hike was the right move, but it may have been made too late. Palm Beach Post. The existence of anti-discrimination policies is not enough to claim a school or community fosters a safe climate for those who identify as transgender. Brittney Beck and LB Hannah, Gainesville Sun.

Student enrichment: Fifth-graders from Dunnellon and Marion Oaks elementary schools talk about U.S. citizens’ rights and responsibilities in a mock congressional hearing. Ocala Star Banner. Ten Florida high school seniors will be honored under the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. They are Devin J Barkey, American Heritage School, Plantation; Christina H Cruz, Carrollton Sacred Heart, Miami; Jeffrey W. Gu, Land O’ Lakes High School; Nadia Wolff, Diana Eusebio and Cornelius A. Tulloch, Design & Architecture Senior High School, Miami; Katerina M. McCrimmon and Sean J. Stack, New World School of the Arts, Miami; Zachary H Rapaport, Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, West Palm Beach; and David Zuluaga, Oviedo High School. Politico Florida. Twenty-one Indialantic Elementary School students build three droids out of recycled materials for a special art project, “Recycle Wars: The Trash Awakens.” Florida Today. Eastside High School’s Institute of Culinary Arts wins second place in the National ProStart Invitational. Gainesville Sun. Three high schools in Monroe County will get $300,000 from the school board to improve the sound and lighting equipment at their auditoriums. Keynoter. With the help of 21 local businesses, Shayna Schulman, a sophomore at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, publishes a children’s book about saving money. Palm Beach Post. The A. Crawford Mosley High School Student Government Association donates $20,000 to Honor Flight Tallahassee, a nonprofit that honors veterans by flying them for free to Washington, D.C., to see service memorials. Panama City News Herald.