Florida schools roundup: Panel concludes some teachers should be armed and more

Shooting panel draft report: The 407-page draft report of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission recommends arming willing teachers and other employees in schools, and immediately taking practical measures to restrict access to schools and standardizing procedures for identifying dangerous students. The report criticizes the Broward County School District for not following basic security measures like locking doors, says the principal should be investigated for not insisting he be told about all threats, and concludes that Broward County deputies should have rushed into the school to confront the shooter Feb. 14. Seventeen people were shot to death and 17 others were wounded. The report, which is not final, will be delivered to the governor and Legislature by Jan. 1. Sun Sentinel. Associated Press. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Capitol News Service. WLRNFort Myers News-Press. The commission releases transcripts of law enforcement officers detailing the chaos at the scene. Miami Herald. A judge rejects former Stoneman Douglas deputy Scot Peterson’s argument that he had “no legal duty” to protect the students and staff. Peterson was asking that a lawsuit filed by the family of a victim be dismissed. Sun Sentinel. Associated Press. Now that Ron DeSantis is the governor-elect, will he follow up on a campaign statement to remove Broward Sheriff Scott Israel for his agency’s failings during the shooting? Sun Sentinel. Who are school shooters, and why do they kill? Sun Sentinel.

Graduation, school security: The Palm Beach County School Board agrees to spend an additional $100,000 to upgrade security next spring at high school graduation ceremonies held at the South Florida Fairgrounds in West Palm Beach. Attendees will now have to pass through metal detectors. Sun Sentinel. Fourteen more resource officers will be assigned to St. Johns County schools after the winter vacation. Twenty-five schools will now have sworn officers, and 14 others will have armed security guards. St. Augustine Record.

When kids kill: In the past decade, 73 Duval County children between the ages of 10 and 17 have been arrested for murder and manslaughter, second in the state only to Miami-Dade, which has far more children. From prison, 25 of those young people talk about the circumstances that led them to kill. Florida Times-Union.

Textbook selections: A year ago, the Marion County School District became the first in the state to adopt its own textbook selection process. Now two school board members want the district to turn the process back over to the state, citing teacher unhappiness and cost. Ocala Star-Banner.

Employees honored: Shane Swezey, a music teacher at Oak Park, a school for students with special needs, is named the Sarasota County School District’s teacher of the year. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Aymee Carbon Mejias, a custodian at Eisenhower Middle School, is selected as one of four finalists for the Hillsborough County School District’s support employee of the year award. The winner will be announced Jan. 24. Gradebook.

Ethics violation alleged: A Florida Ethics Commission investigation concludes that there is probable cause that Flagler County School Board member Janet McDonald and her husband Donald broke state law by filing inaccurate financial disclosure reports. The commission will decide the cases at a future meeting. Flagler Live.

District’s religious policy: The Volusia County School District is proposing to adopt a policy to protect students against religious discrimination. Officials say they will adopt the state policy that protects religious expression in schools. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Educating the troubled: The Hernando County School District will take over the job of providing education to about 60 boys, ages 12 to 18, who have been convicted of crimes and have mental health or substance-abuse problems. It’s partnering with Youth Opportunity Investments, which provides treatment and the residence at the Center for Success and Independence-Brooksville Academy. Tampa Bay Times.

School addition: A $13 million project to expand and renovate Lehigh Senior High School in Fort Myers is scheduled to begin next month. The work is scheduled to be completed in July. The two-story addition and renovations will create room for an additional 721 students, raising the enrollment capacity to 2,545. Fort Myers News-Press.

School closing vote: The Pasco County School Board will vote Dec. 18 whether to close Lacoochee Elementary School. Superintendent Kurt Browning is recommending the closure despite the school’s improvement to a C grade from the state this year, saying the school’s enrollment is dwindling and the students could be better served at a school 7 miles away. Some school board members are skeptical. Gradebook.

Personnel moves: Former Hernando County Superintendent Lori Romano, who has been working as a grant writer for the Pasco County School District since July, is chosen to become the district’s senior supervisor of federal/state grants and shared services in March. She’ll replace Tammy Rabon, who is retiring. Gradebook.

Raise for superintendent: Clay County Superintendent Addison Davis is getting a raise of 14.5 percent, from $134,480 a year to $154,000, starting Jan. 1. Clay Today.

School district’s future: New Brevard County School Board member Kayte Campbell talks about the future of the district and security measures in schools. Florida Today.

Settling disputes: The Monroe County School Board and Florida Keys Community College are close to resolving disputes on property boundaries and access to classroom space. Key West Citizen.

Students hit by vehicles: A 15-year-old Pinellas County student is critically injured when she’s hit by a car while biking to school. Janeva Love Buczynski was heading to East Lake High School when she tried to cross a street and was struck. The car had a green light, troopers say. Tampa Bay Times. A Palm Beach County middle school student is hospitalized after being hit by a vehicle after school. The accident happened across from Suncoast Christian Academy in Lantana. Palm Beach Post.

Students arrested: A Palm Beach County high school student is arrested for bringing a pellet gun to Seminole Ridge High School, hitting a dean several times with his truck and then pointing the truck toward a school officer. The officer drew his gun and the student drove away, but was caught several miles away after a chase. Palm Beach Post. A 17-year-old student at Atlantic High School in Volusia County is arrested and accused of having a loaded gun in his backpack at the Port Orange school. Daytona Beach News-Journal. A 10-year-old student at the Minneola Charter School in Lake County is arrested and charged with lewd and lascivious conduct and witness tampering. Deputies say the boy was inappropriately touching two girls at school, saying he was going to have sex with them and threatening them if they told anyone. Daily Commercial.

Opinions on schools: Another week, another batch of ugly accusations against a public official in Central Florida. This time, it’s at the Florida Virtual School, where Orlando attorney Frank Kruppenbacher resigned as general counsel in August after the school launched an investigation into his behavior toward women and his use of the state agency’s resources and money. Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel. Most students who succeed in engineering were well-prepared by STEM courses in middle and high school. So what should STEM in K-12 schools look like? Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow. We can’t be sure what schools should look like now, much less decades from now. But the best plan, in my opinion, is to set educators free in a system with proper incentives – and with parents playing the primary role of holding them accountable through the tried-and-true mechanisms of voluntary association and exchange. Matthew Ladner, redefinED. Parents justifiably hate Common Core, because it destroys their children’s love of learning. Karen Effrem, Sunshine State News.

Student enrichment: A 2018 Gainesville High School graduate, Ellery Burgess, scored a “top of the world’ grade on the global perspective and research exam in the Cambridge International Examinations. Two other former students and four current ones also were honored for earning “top of the country” grades. Gainesville Sun. Singers from the private Ambleside School of Ocala are invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Ocala Star-Banner.

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BY NextSteps staff