Florida schools roundup: Corcoran gets BOE approval, report cards and more

Corcoran appointed: Richard Corcoran, former speaker of the Florida House, is unanimously approved by the Florida Board of Education to replace Pam Stewart as education commissioner. Corcoran, who was recommended by Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis, is a combative supporter of school choice, scholarship programs and charter schools and was widely opposed by teachers unions and public school advocates. “We won’t be concerned with tradition, or who has the power, or who has the might,” Corcoran said. “What we’re going to do is break down those walls and give kids an opportunity.” Associated Press. News Service of FloridaTallahassee Democrat. Orlando SentinelGradebook. Florida Phoenix. Politico FloridaOrlando WeeklyWWSBFlorida PoliticsCapitolist. WUSF. WFSU. WFTV.

Report cards and abuse: Child abuse reports spike on Saturdays after report cards are issued by schools on Fridays, according to a report published by University of Florida researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association. There were almost four times more abuse cases reported on Saturdays a day after report cards are issued than on other Saturdays. “Anecdotally, we know a lot of parents will spank their children or use corporal punishment if they’re unsatisfied with their school work,” says University of Florida psychologist Melissa Bright. The report, which acknowledges its conclusions are speculative, drew its data from Florida’s 67 counties during the 2015-2016 academic year. New York Times. Associated PressFatherly. University of Florida.

Remove teachers, schools told: Two persistently struggling Hillsborough County schools have been ordered by the Florida Board of Education to remove all 11 teachers with “unsatisfactory” evaluations. If Jackson Elementary and Greco Middle don’t comply, their state-required improvement plans will be denied. Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says she’s been assured by Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins that the district will fulfill the demand. Gradebook.

Shooting suit dismissed: A federal judge rules that the Broward County School District and Sheriff’s Office had no legal duty to protect students from a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and dismisses a lawsuit against them and others. Sun Sentinel. School officials rewound video footage of the scene inside Stoneman Douglas but didn’t tell anyone they had done so, leading to confusion about the location of the shooter and delaying a response by law enforcement, according to the draft report by the state commission investigating the massacre. Sun Sentinel. Escambia County School District Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says he’s leery about arming teachers, despite the recommendations of the state commission. Pensacola News Journal. Leaders of Tallahassee, the Leon County schools and county commission meet for the first time in decades, and one of the topics is school safety. Tallahassee Democrat.

Virtual school suit threat: Frank Kruppenbacher, the former Florida Virtual School (FLVS) attorney who resigned in August after the school began an investigation into employee complaints about him, is threatening legal action against the school if it makes those complaints public. Reporters have requested those records from the school. FLVS is now suing both Kruppenbacher and the Orlando Sentinel, and is asking a judge to decide if the records should be released. Orlando Sentinel.

Housing at school: The Monroe County School Board will consider cutting down the number of units for school employees it would place on the grounds of the Sugarloaf School. The proposal to build 18 affordable housing units for teachers and other school employees at the school was made in October 2017, after Hurricane Irma devastated the Keys. But neighbors of the school have complained about overcrowding. Key West Citizen.

Teachers protest extra pay: A social media post over the weekend created a stir among some Hillsborough County teachers, and district officials reacted quickly to clarify. The post pointed out that some high-ranking administrators who volunteered to teach classes part-time at four struggling and understaffed schools would be eligible for extra pay as compensation for teaching and doing their regular jobs. District officials explained that only those who were teaching fulltime were eligible for the extra pay. Only one administrator fit that criteria, and she has said she will not accept any extra pay. Gradebook.

Education podcast: Reporters from the South Florida Sun Sentinel discuss their recent investigation detailing how some Florida school districts are failing to report crimes in schools to the state, as required by state law. WJCT.

Teachers unions hit benchmark: About 55 percent of the teachers eligible for the Manatee Education Association teachers union are now members, according to president Pat Barber. Last spring the Legislature approved a law requiring a union to have 50 percent membership of all eligible workers or face decertification. The Sarasota Classified Teacher’s Association also is safe with 86 percent membership. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Memorial for students: Two Mulberry High School students and football players who died in a car crash last weekend will be honored today in a memorial service at the school. Driver Kenneth Haney, 17, and passenger Chad Hall, 18, died when their car ran into the back of a truck stopped for a traffic light in Polk County. Lakeland LedgerWFLA. WTSP.

Teacher arrested: A Charlotte County teacher is arrested and accused of making a false police report as a cover for being late to work. Deputies say Karter Dale-Erwin Clark, 25, teacher at Neil Armstrong Elementary, told deputies he was pulled over by two armed men in what he thought was an unmarked police car. Deputies later determined the story was untrue, and had been concocted by Clark to cover his tardiness for work. Charlotte Sun.

Opinions on schools: School choice has a formidable champion in Florida’s new education commissioner, Richard Corcoran, and his detractors are already lobbing brickbats. Nancy Smith, Sunshine State News.

Student enrichment: Students at the River Ridge High School’s New Teacher Academy in Pasco County are working on a puppet show that is aimed at helping younger students understand about people with disabilities. Tampa Bay Times. Students at Lehigh Acres Middle School are learning to code, build robots and more through a grant. Fort Myers News-Press. Ten Leon County schools used grants to build gardens where they’re growing vegetables and fruits to share with students, parents, cafeterias and food banks. Tallahassee Democrat. Students at the Tavares High School Teaching Academy design and will carry out an literacy service project at Tavares Elementary School. Daily Commercial.