Florida schools roundup: Walkout, security, taxes, Negron retiring and more

Student walkout: Students from hundreds of U.S. schools walked out Wednesday to show their support for the Second Amendment. The walkout, called “Stand for the Second,” was initiated by New Mexico student Will Riley to show that not all students agreed with the gun-control walkouts organized last month by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a gunman killed 17 people there Feb. 14. Wednesday’s rally lasted for 16 minutes – one minute less than the gun-control walkout April 20. USA Today. The 74Huffington Post. Tallahassee Democrat.

School security: The Sarasota County School Board begins the process of building an internal police department by approving job descriptions for a police chief and sergeant. The vote was 3-2, with chairwoman Bridget Ziegler saying she had “grave concerns” about moving away from a system based on school resource officers from outside law enforcement agencies. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. St. Johns County School Board members are calling for a joint meeting with county commissioners to pay for required school security measures. “It’s a community issue,” says board chair Bill Mignon. “It’s not just a school board issue.” St. Augustine Record. The Tarpon Springs City Commission approves a proposal to hire two police officers to help the Pinellas County School District fulfill a state mandate to have armed security in every school. Tampa Bay Times. Bay County school officials are struggling to balance the need for school safety with the wish to make visitors comfortable in going to schools for events. Panama City News Herald. Two cities in Clay County want to provide school resource officers to schools. Green Cove Springs is asking the school board for part of the money to supply officers, and Orange Park also is offering to negotiate for the use of its officers. Clay Today.

Tax hike considered: The Palm Beach County District is considering asking voters to approve a property tax increase to boost teacher salaries and help pay for school security and mental health services. The requested amount has not been set, though school board members have discussed adding $100 on every $100,000 of taxable property value, which could raise as much as $153 million a year. If the board approves the proposal when it meets June 20, it would go before voters in the November general election. Palm Beach PostSun-Sentinel.

Negron leaving Senate: Florida Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, announces his retirement after nine years in the Legislature. Negron was an advocate for improving higher education and helped secure increased, permanent spending on Bright Futures scholarships. GateHousePalm Beach PostPolitico Florida. TCPalm. Sun-Sentinel. Sunshine State News. News Service of Florida. WFSU.

Later start times urged: After an Ed White High School student was hit and killed early Tuesday while trying to cross a busy street near a school bus stop, Duval County School Board member Scott Shine called for later school start times so students wouldn’t be walking to school in the dark. WJXT.

Personnel moves: Jesus Jara, a deputy superintendent of the Orange County School District, is the Clark County School Board’s choice to become superintendent of that district in Las Vegas. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Las Vegas SunKLAS. Michelle Williams, principal at Anclote High School in Pasco County since early 2013, will become senior manager in the finance department. Gradebook. Ed LaRose, an assistant principal at Springstead High School in Pasco County, is named principal at Parrott Middle School. Gradebook.

School hopes for turnaround: It’s been a difficult year at Wharton High School in Hillsborough County, with fighting, arrests and a widespread belief among teachers that a vast majority of students just aren’t interested in following rules. District officials are hoping a new principal, tightened procedures and plans to physically clean up the campus lead to a turnaround in the next school year. Tampa Bay Times.

Notable deaths: Shelley Raley, a campus minister, religion teacher and assistant basketball coach at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Golden Gate, dies at the age of 40 of esophageal cancer. Naples Daily News.

Drug testing considered: The Monroe County School Board will vote next week on a program to randomly test school student-athletes for drugs. The testing would be a trial for one year, and start in the fall. Key West Citizen.

She’s number 1: During Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s tour of Shoal River Middle School in Crestview, he paused to get a selfie with students and posted it on Facebook. Most of the kids were smiling and waving, but one student in the front was clearing extending the middle finger of her left hand. Gaetz took it in stride, but the 6th-grader’s mother wasn’t happy and said she “would deal with her daughter.” Northwest Florida Daily News. Pensacola News JournalHuffington Post.

Teachers arrested: An elementary school music teacher is arrested and accused of engaging in  sexual act with a 16-year-old girl at a band camp five years ago. Justin James House, now 31, was a counselor at the University of Miami summer musicians’ camp in June 2013 and was later hired at Lorah Park Elementary School. Miami Herald. Ridgewood High School teacher Sean Gallegos is arrested and accused of sexual battery involving custodial authority of a 16-year-old student, according to Pasco County sheriff’s deputies. Gallegos, 43, who taught robotics, is on administrative leave. Tampa Bay Times.

Why principal was reassigned: A Leon County School District investigation alleges that a former principal ordered staffers to falsify Title I surveys in order to receive additional federal funding. The principal, Marilyn Jackson-Rahming, was reassigned in March to oversee the district’s ESOL program at the Adult Community Education Facility for the remainder of the school year. The district has forwarded the report to the Department of Education’s Office of Professional Practices Services, which disciplines educators. Tallahassee Democrat.

Podcast teacher investigation: The Citrus County School District investigation into a teacher for comments made online and in a podcast found probable cause that she violated “professional practices by being deceptive in changing her teaching practices when administration enters her classroom and by encouraging her students to go along with the deception.” Dayanna Volitich resigned, but the results of the investigation could prompt state sanctions against her teaching license. Citrus County Chronicle.

Arrested for threats: An 18-year-old former student is arrested on a charge of trespassing on school property with a firearm at Miami Jackson Senior High School. Zion Horne was found by a school resource officer in a second-floor bathroom with a loaded gun, police say. Miami Herald. A Pinellas County student is arrested and accused of threatening to kill a Bayside High School classmate on a Facebook video that shows her holding a gun. WTSP.

School vandalism: Four students are arrested and accused of breaking into and vandalizing the Port St. Joe junior/senior high school and elementary school last weekend. Port St. Joe Star.

Opinions on schools: It’s a disappointment in leadership that the counties and school boards can’t work together to do the right thing to protect schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Matt Walsh, Your Observer. The Florida High School Athletic Association needs to tell school districts that beyond the heat illness training for coaches and athletes, there will be tubs, thermometers and trained medical personnel at athletic activities. This isn’t negotiable. Tom Hayden, Fort Myers News-Press. Problems with employee screenings are hardly limited to private schools. Just as state regulators don’t routinely double-check background screenings for every private-school employee, neither do they double-check every public-school employee. Ron Matus, Orlando Sentinel.

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BY NextSteps staff