Florida schools roundup: H.B. 7069, dual enrollment, book challenges and more

Suit dismissal sought: The Florida Department of Education is asking a court to dismiss a challenge to the new education law, H.B. 7069. The suit was filed by the Palm Beach County School Board, and focuses on the portion of the law that requires school districts to provide money to charter schools for construction and other building-related expenses. The DOE says the lawsuit is “based on erroneous interpretations of the Florida Constitution.” News Service of Florida.

Dual enrollment: More than 15,000 south Florida high school students are now taking dual-enrollment courses to earn college credits, saving both time and money as they work toward a college degree. Several high schools are even set up specifically for students to take college courses. Sun-Sentinel.

Textbook challenges: Since the Legislature approved a law making it easier for anyone to challenge classroom material as pornographic, biased, inaccurate or a violation of state law, seven Florida school districts say they have received challenges to textbooks. Associated Press.

Amendment proposals: The Constitution Revision Commission’s education committee will consider three proposals today: ending pay for school board members, requiring superintendents to be appointed instead of elected, and setting term limits for school board members. All are proposed by Collier County School Board member Erika Donalds. Politico Florida. More than 10 of the 103 constitutional amendment proposals focus on education. Here are summaries of all 103. Sun-Sentinel.

Closing affects gifted: More than 70 students in gifted programs at several Palm Beach County schools are scheduled to be shifted to other schools when Odyssey Middle School closes at the end of the school year and its students fill surrounding schools. Their parents aren’t happy with the plan. Palm Beach Post.

DeVos tour: U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will visit three schools in southwest Florida today, stopping at Florida South Western State College and its charter school, Florida Southwestern Collegiate High School in Fort Myers, and then Lake Park Elementary in Naples. Tampa Bay Times.

School boards: Alva Striplin is elected chairwoman of the Leon County School Board, and Maggie Lewis-Butler is elected vice-chairwoman. Tallahassee Democrat. Ten people have applied to Gov. Rick Scott for consideration to replace Escambia County School Board member Linda Moultrie, who resigned in August, until the November 2018 election. Moultrie has filed to run for the seat she vacated. Pensacola News Journal.

School property: The Flagler County School Board will take bids for a 7-acre property that used to house the Flagler Technical Institute. The district tried to sell the property in 2015, setting a price of $2.3 million, but got no takers. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Property competition: The Martin County School Board wants the city of Stuart to donate land for an administration center, but the city also has an offer from a developer who wants to build 120 homes on the property. At least one city commissioner thinks the city should sell the land to the developer instead of donating it to the school district. TCPalm.

Ex-coach, district sued: The family of a student injured in a pickup basketball game at Fort Myers High School in May is suing the former basketball coach and Lee County School District officials. The boy claims former coach Scott Guttery pushed him to the ground, injuring his head. A sheriff’s office investigation found the complaint unfounded, but Guttery eventually resigned. Fort Myers News-Press.

Letter of ‘guidance’: Henry Kelley, the spokesman for the Okaloosa County School District, has received a “letter of guidance” from an investigator hired to look into his responses to a citizen who criticized the district’s handling of a child abuse investigation. Steven Menchel, the citizen who lodged the complaint against Kelley, criticized the investigation as “shallow” and a failure of “basic investigative techniques.” Northwest Florida Daily News.

Battery on bus: The Lee County deputies are investigating an allegation of battery on a Challenger Middle School student on an after-school bus. The girl reported that a boy pinned her down and began groping at her chest. Deputies say the boy was responding to a dare to kiss a girl. School officials say the student was disciplined. Fort Myers News-Press.

iPads stolen: Five iPads meant for Flagler County teachers are stolen when someone reroutes the delivery from the Flagler County Education Foundation to a Palm Coast Walgreens. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Opinions on schools: Regardless whether you like the big education bill, commonly known as House Bill 7069, the lawsuit challenging it illustrates why legislators shouldn’t put off big, important matters until the last days of a session – and then make it a “take it or leave it” proposition. Bill Cotterell, Tallahassee Democrat. Darwin deniers will never stop trying to inject religiosity into Florida’s biology classes. Fred Grimm, Sun-Sentinel. The bill that gives scholarships to students who are bullied isn’t really about bullying. It’s about again expanding Florida’s voucher program — a largely unregulated system where students aren’t guaranteed certified teachers, safe classrooms or even that accused molesters won’t be roaming the halls. Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times. I wish there was a magic law we could pass, or a surefire campaign that would put an end bullying in our schools. That is wishful thinking, and that’s why the Hope Scholarship is needed. T. Willard Fair, Sun-Sentinel. Given that educators are already managing a full instructional plate with limited available time, the question arises as to whether another instructional requirement mandated by the Legislature is the best approach for promoting financial literacy. Citrus County Chronicle. Fiscal literacy is important enough — and a half-credit is little enough — to support state Sen. Dorothy Hukill’s bill requiring all high school students to pass such a class before they can graduate. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Supporters of a new Destin High School were no doubt deeply disappointed at the news last week that the Okaloosa County School District wasn’t planning to go through with requesting voter approval of a half-cent sales tax. Northwest Florida Daily News. The Florida Constitution Revision Commission continues its quest of meddling in Florida’s constitution rather than mending it when it comes to educational issues. St. Augustine Record. Gainesville should offset the Alachua County School District’s loss of $750,000 in tax money created when the city bought the biomass plant from Gainesville Regional Utilities. Gainesville Sun. When charter schools don’t meet expectations, they close. That’s why they work. Rhonda Lochiatto, Daytona Beach News-Journal. Fixing Florida’s STEM problems – one of which is the decline in the supply of math and science teachers – will require explaining to parents why STEM disciplines are important to their kids. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

Student enrichment: The Broward County School District receives a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase career and technical education teacher certifications, preparation and support. South Florida Times. Pasco County students win 20 top awards at the District 11 Junior Thespian Festival, which included 22 schools from Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Manatee counties. Tampa Bay Times. South Florida students identify community needs, and set up nonprofits to help meet those needs. Sun-Sentinel. Two Collier County students take part in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. Naples Daily News. The Sarasota community donates more than 550 classroom books to replace ones taken when Brookside Middle School was being used as a hurricane shelter during Hurricane Irma. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. A Volusia County School District fund-raiser to help victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico raises $28,276. Daytona Beach News-Journal.