Florida schools roundup: ESSA plan, generosity, image, boycott and more

Accountability plan: Florida is now the only state whose plan to meet the federal Every Student Succeeds Act standards has yet to be approved by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Last week DeVos gave the okay to California’s and Utah’s plans, but Florida’s second attempt to comply is still pending. The last action came June 5, when the U.S. DOE said Florida “has not submitted a revised consolidated state plan that meets all the requirements of the ESSA and the McKinney-Vento Act.” Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has said the U.S. can’t force the state to change its accountability system, and that many of ESSA’s guidelines do not match Florida’s philosophy. The state is resisting provisions to test students in languages other than English, and the demand for better detailing of demographic subgroup performances. Gradebook.

Acts of unexpected generosity: Passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to Jacksonville who overhear a 1st-grade teacher talking about the low-income students at her Illinois charter school donate $530 to help the students. Teacher Kimberly Bermudez, 27, says she was shocked by the generosity of the passengers — and that they were carrying that much cash. Washington Post.

Image-sprucing move: The Broward County School District, hit with a barrage of bad news since the Parkland school shooting Feb. 14 that killed 17 people, is looking for a public relations boost by advertising for a chief public information officer who can “champion a favorable public image and brand for the district.” The job will pay between $104,836 and $174,870 a year. Sun-Sentinel.

School boycott urged: The secretary of education under President Obama again urges parents across the United States to boycott schools until they’re safe. Arne Duncan tells parents in Parkland Tuesday that a boycott would force Congress to take action on gun reform. Sun-Sentinel.

School security: Martin County School Board members elect to hire 13 sheriff’s deputies instead of Stuart Police Department officers to work in the county’s schools next year. The decision will cost the district $2.4 million more than it spent last year for security. TCPalm. Palm Beach Gardens city officials want sworn police officers, not school resource officers, to patrol schools in the city next year. The city will provide security for five elementary schools, and officials will ask the Palm Beach School District to allow officers to also patrol middle and high schools, which have had resource officers. Palm Beach Post. The Sarasota County School Board approves the hiring of Paul Grohowski as police chief of the district’s police department, and contracts for school security with the Venice and North Port police departments and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Newly hired Pasco County schools security director Chris Stowe vows to fully integrate his officers into schools and to make them approachable to students and staff. Tampa Bay Times. A Putnam County School Board member charges that Superintendent Rick Surrency violated the state’s Sunshine Law when he pushed through the armed guardian program to protect schools. WJAXHillsborough County school resource officers get active shooter training at Strawberry Crest High School. Tampa Bay Times

Superintendent’s evaluation: Sarasota County School Board members give Superintendent Todd Bowden a mediocre score of 2.7 on a 5-point scale in an evaluation of his first year on the job. But the score was rounded up to 3, making Bowden an “effective” administrator, and the board gave him a $12,000 raise and a $10,000 bonus. The district maintained its A grade from the state, but Bowden was involved in several disputes with other government agencies and with board members. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Personnel moves: Recently fired Hernando County Superintendent Lori Romano lands a job as senior grant writer in the Pasco County School District’s Office of Student Support Programs and Services, pending school board approval. Tampa Bay Times. New Duval County School Superintendent Diana Greene says she wants to hire Wayne Green, a former state education official, as the head of the district’s “turnaround region” of 29 struggling schools. Green also says she’s looking for “new people” to play on what she calls “Team Duval.” Florida Times-Union.

Educators honored: Ena Leiba is named the Brevard County School District’s principal of the year, and Catherine Murphy is chosen as assistant principal of the year. Leiba has led Sea Park Elementary in Satellite Beach since 2006, and Murphy was assistant principal of Longleaf Elementary in Melbourne before recently being promoted to principal of Fairglen Elementary in Cocoa. Florida Today.

School board elections: The three candidates for the District 6 seat on the Pinellas County School Board talk about teacher pay, school security, the achievement gap and more. Tampa Bay Times. Candidates for the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County School Board discuss Superintendent Jeff Eakins, charter schools, the district’s finances and more. Gradebook. District 5 candidates for the Leon County School Board talk about teacher autonomy. WFSU. Candidates for the District 2 seat on the Manatee County School Board have vastly different perspectives on how the district is doing. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Financial advisory committee: The Manatee County School District’s Citizens’ Financial Advisory Committee sheds a member, adds two, plans to add another and begins its work of making sure the money collected from a voter-approved property tax increase is used properly by the district. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

New school buses: Hillsborough County school officials say all 100 new district school buses have seat belts. Each seat will have three lap belts. Florida is one of six states requiring buses bought after 2000 to have seat belts. WTSP.

School leader investigated: The director of a charter school that the Palm Beach County School District wants closed is being investigated for taking two video cameras owned by a church that rents space on the school campus. Gregory Blount, director of Eagles Arts Academy, told sheriff’s deputies that he took the cameras, but returned them after initially saying he would not. Church leaders later said Blount returned both cameras, and charges are not likely to be lodged. Palm Beach Post.

Accused teacher dies: A Duval County substitute teacher accused of inappropriately touching a student at Mayport Middle School in May has died. Deputies say Mike Dylan Joseph, 23, committed suicide. Duval officials were investigating the allegation at the time of Joseph’s death. WJAX.

School burglary arrest: Two former students at Powell Middle School in Hernando County are arrested and charged with stealing 19 laptops from the school earlier this month. All 19 have been recovered. Justin Hopkins, 21, and Brandon Pestana, 22, each face one count each of burglary of an unoccupied structure. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: Passing such an inane, potentially disastrous proposal as Amendment 8 would essentially remove local control over who is allowed to open and operate what charter schools. It’s unconscionable, and the Leon County Circuit Court should quickly rule to strike this insult to voters from the November ballot. Palm Beach Post. Democratic candidates criticizing school choice could well be alienating other Democrats who will be going to the polls this fall. Ron Matus, redesignED.

Avatar photo

BY NextSteps staff