Florida schools roundup: H.B. 7069 lawsuit, amendments, safety and more

H.B. 7069 suit filed: The lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new state education law, H.B. 7069, has been filed in a Leon County circuit court. Thirteen school districts are suing over the law, which requires districts to share local property tax money with charter schools but limits the authority local boards have over those schools. School boards in Alachua, Bay, Broward, Clay, Duval, Hamilton, Lee, Orange, Pinellas, Polk, St. Lucie, Volusia and Wakulla counties voted to join the suit. Palm Beach County also is suing over the law, but in a separate caseOrlando Sentinel. Naples Herald. WBBH. WLRN.

Constitution and education: Dozens of education proposals are among the 700 changes suggested during meetings of the state’s Constitution Revision Commission, which convenes every 20 years to take a look at and potentially amend the constitution. Some of the proposals deal with every angle of an issue. For example, there are proposals to make all school superintendents elected, to make them appointed, or to do away with them altogether. There are amendments about charters, class sizes, funding and mandates, proposed both by commissioners and the public. Proposals must be approved by a majority of the commission by Dec. 14 to get onto the November 2018 ballot. Then, 60 percent of voters must approve the amendments for them to be added to the constitution. Tampa Bay Times.

Jewish school safety: Gov. Rick Scott says he will propose $1 million in the state budget to improve security at Jewish schools. There has been a wave of threats against Jewish schools and community centers in the past year, and the Legislature put $654,000 into a pool earlier this year for those schools for bulletproof glass, fencing and video cameras. “I know many Floridians have been horrified by the threats against our Jewish schools and communities,” says Scott. “We have absolutely zero tolerance for these hateful and anti-Semitic acts.” The proposal has other religious groups wondering why they aren’t being offered funds. Miami HeraldSun-Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. WQAM. Sunshine State News. Tallahassee Democrat. WPEC.

Displaced students: Almost 700 students displaced by this season’s Atlantic hurricanes have enrolled in Orange County schools, and almost 350 are entering Miami-Dade schools, according to district officials. Most of the students are from Puerto Rico. The 74.

Expulsion rates drop: The number of Hillsborough County students being expelled or moved is down significantly from last year, school officials report. In 2015-2016, the number was 508. Last year it was 244. Middle schools saw a dramatic decline as the district has emphasized counseling, mentoring and other programs for all but the worst offenses. Gradebook.

Superintendent’s evaluation: The Lee County School Board will meet again to discussion the evaluation of Superintendent Greg Adkins. The review was delayed for two weeks to give board member Melisa Giovannelli a chance to air her concerns about Adkins’ performance in a one-on-one conversation with him. She thinks Adkins needs improvement in all areas, while the rest of the board rated him highly effective. Fort Myers News-Press.

Restructuring communications: The last public relations firm Sarasota County School Superintendent Todd Bowden hired for communications resigned after its leader was caught posting on social media under different names. So Bowden is now giving the school board three options to replace the company: Hire another outside firm to manage the district communications staff, hire a director with support from a public relations firm, or hire a communications director and a specialist who work for the district. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Personnel moves: Former Lakeland High School athletic director Justin Troller, suspended since May after accusations that he had inappropriate conversations with a 17-year-old boy, is returning to work for the district in a position that does not include contact with students. No criminal charges were filed. Lakeland Ledger.

Students rally against principal: Sixteen current and former students at Tenoroc High School rally in support of the assistant principal who was dismissed after accusing the principal of making inappropriate comments to her. An investigation could not substantiate allegations against principal Jason Looney, who remains on the job. Brandi Blanchard, who complained about Looney and was fired, has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Lakeland Ledger.

School board elections: Bobby James, senior member of the Marion County School Board, says he won’t run for re-election in 2018. Ed Wilson and Dontay Prophet are in the race to succeed James. Two other board members, Kelly King and Angie Boynton, are running for re-election. Boynton has one challenger so far, Nancy Thrower. Ocala Star-Banner.

Booster treasurer arrested: The treasurer of the Bay High School football booster club is arrested and accused of spending about $2,500 of the club’s money on personal items. Rebecca Kominczak, 44, is charged with fraudulent use of a credit card and grand theft. Panama City News Herald.

Opinions on schools: A Florida League of Women Voters attack on a Jacksonville charter school last week would have been more persuasive if it had not so brazenly played a Muslim card and not so blatantly ignored the school’s documented academic success. Travis Pillow, redefinED.

Student enrichment: Celebrity chef Michael Schwartz partners with the nonprofit Wellness in the Schools to teach students at McNichol Middle School in Broward County about healthy eating. Sun-Sentinel. Students at Gorrie Elementary School in Tampa, inspired by a presentation by the Think Kindness Organization, decide to do 5,000 acts of kindness in 15 days as a school project. WTVT.