Florida schools roundup: Arming teachers, school cop’s failure and more

Arming teachers: Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, says he supports the idea of arming teachers. His endorsement likely means it will be included in the package of proposed gun-related bills being announced today by the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott. Tampa Bay Times. Sun-Sentinel. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. News Service of Florida. The idea of teachers with guns has some support among politicians, but most educators don’t like it. Tampa Bay Times. Palm Beach Post. Florida Times-Union. Associated Press. WEAR. The National Association of School Resource Officers also opposes the idea of arming teachers, noting in a statement that it “strongly recommends that no firearms be on a school campus except those carried by carefully selected, specially trained school resource officers.” Gradebook. President Donald Trump, who likes the idea of arming select teachers and school staff, slams Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart for suggesting more active shooter drills should be considered. Tampa Bay Times. Politico Florida. New York Times.

School cop resigns: The school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School never entered the building last week to confront the shooter, says Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. The officer, Scot Peterson, rushed to the building when he heard the gunfire but waited outside for four minutes. Israel says Peterson should have “went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.” Peterson, 54, resigned Thursday after he was suspended without pay. Four years ago, Peterson was named school resource officer of the year in Parkland. Sun-SentinelMiami Herald. USA Today. Associated Press. Law enforcement officials were warned repeatedly that alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz was dangerous and a possible school shooter. Miami Herald. Palm Beach Post. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, says a special investigative committee will look into the botched response to the shooting, and it could be chaired by a parent of one of the slain students. Politico Florida.

Other developments: The reopening of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to students is moved back a day to Wednesday, Feb. 28. The school will have a shortened session, from 7:40 to 11:40 a.m. Teachers return today. Sun-SentinelMiami Herald. Police officers who were searching for the shooter at Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14 were getting bad information because, due to a technical glitch, officers looking at the school security cameras were watching video recorded 20 minutes earlier. Sun-Sentinel. Stoneman Douglas alumni are raising money and writing letters to help the students who are working to change the nation’s gun laws. Sun-SentinelSeveral state school districts are discussing how to deal with student walkouts to protest the Parkland school shooting. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Ocala Star-Banner. Florida TodayA new app, StudentProtect, will be available next week to help inform Palm Beach County students, staff and parents about emergencies and to receive alerts about nearby threats. Sun-Sentinel.

School threats: Schools are continuing to deal with an elevated number of threats. Here are some of them, and how districts are handling them. WLRN. WJAX. WFLAOrlando SentinelGradebook. Gradebook. Tampa Bay TimesBradenton HeraldSarasota Herald-Tribune. Lakeland Ledger. Florida Times-Union. Naples Daily News. Apalachicola Times. USA Today. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Panama City News Herald. Daily Commercial. Key West Citizen.

Special needs scholarships: The House Appropriations Committee approves a bill that would increase funding for two private school scholarship programs by allowing companies to contribute to the programs and receive full credit for sales taxes they collect. Up to $154 million a year could go to the Florida Tax Credit and Gardiner scholarship programs. The Gardiner program is for students with special needs, and the bill gives it priority. The tax credit program is for low-income students. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps run both programs. redefinED.

Superintendent search: One of the four finalists being considered for the job of Palm Beach County school superintendent has withdrawn his name. Regional superintendent Frank Rodriguez cited family reasons. The three remaining candidates are deputy superintendent David Christiansen, chief operating officer Donald Fennoy and chief academic officer Keith Oswald. Palm Beach PostSun-Sentinel.

Promising signs: Marion County school officials say practice assessments show improvement by students at struggling schools, and they are optimistic the district’s C grade from the state last year will improve to a B, at least. Ocala Star-Banner.

School board elections: Former state representative Karen Castor Dentel is running for the District 6 seat on the Orange County School Board. That seat is held by Nancy Robbinson, but she is running for the board chair position and will have to resign. Other candidates for District 6 are real estate agent Kelvin Cobaris, PTA leader Charlene Roberts Norato and former teacher Patricia Fox. Florida Politics.

Personnel moves: Karen Rose, executive director of Sarasota County’s middle schools, retired this week. She originally had planned to leave in November. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Dean accused of battery: The dean of students at the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School in Gainesville, John Bourn, was put on administrative leave after two allegations of simple battery against him, according to police. Gainesville Sun.

Opinions on schools: The failure of authorities to protest Stoneman Douglas students is stunning. Miami Herald. If Marjory Stoneman Douglas were alive today, she’d be inspired by the activism of the students at the school bearing her name. In turn, whether the students know it or not, their initiative is in keeping with Douglas’ legacy. Jack E. Davis, Tampa Bay Times. The message to Stoneman Douglas students: Don’t ever go away. Don’t ever be quiet. Don’t ever let these cowardly politicians wriggle off the hook. Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald. We stand with the thousands of students who rallied in Tallahassee and across the nation, including Palm Bay. We will stand up to those who do not. Florida Today. Students protesting guns don’t seem to get that we need the Second Amendment. Peyton Hodges, Orlando Sentinel. We don’t know the answer to this public health crisis because our premier health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which investigates public health crises, has effectively been banned from researching deaths from gun violence. Dr. Mona V. Mangat, Tampa Bay Times. How do you explain the inexplicable of gun violence? Sean Pittman, Tallahassee Democrat. In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting, state lawmakers can no longer ignore the Safe Schools program. Or can they? TCPalm. We’re happy to see the Florida Senate take on the role of being the adult in the room by sanding down the sharp edges of a House education bill that was every bit as bad as last year’s controversial bill, if not worse. TCPalm. Use of required local effort taxpayer funded capital dollars at the expense of school district construction, maintenance and equipment needs only serves to weaken rather than strengthen Florida’s traditional public school system. Citrus County Chronicle. A bill that would give any member of the Legislature the same rights of access to schools in his or her district as school board members have is a solution in search of a problem. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student enrichment: A group of Miami-Dade high school students are staging a play that focuses on how differently an issue of social injustice is conveyed by various members of the media. Miami Herald. The robotics team at Sarasota’s Brookside Middle School is the top team in the state, and plans to attend the world championship in Kentucky in April. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.