Florida schools roundup: Cameras at schools, security, turnover and more

Security at schools: The Broward County School District is spending $621,000 for a surveillance system that recognizes people, and watches and remembers their movements. The 116 cameras will be installed at 36 schools, mostly high schools. One is expected to be Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people died in an attach last Feb. 14. Sun Sentinel. The Duval County School Board approves the creation of threat assessment teams for all schools. WJAX. Orange County is still trying to hire enough officers to cover all schools. Orlando Sentinel. South Florida parents and students talk about whether Florida’s new school safety requirements are making students feel safer in their schools. WLRN.

Teacher turnover: Teachers are leaving the St. Johns County School District at the highest rate in three years, according to district data. During the 2017-2018 school year, 243 of 3,216 teachers resigned, a rate of 7.5 percent. St. Augustine RecordWJAX. The Lake County School District has a teacher turnover rate of about 15 percent a year, and seven schools have rates of 40 percent or higher. District officials say they are working on a strategy to improve retention. Daily Commercial.

Transgender students: The Liberty Counsel, an Orlando-based religious rights group, is giving the Pasco County School District until Jan. 18 to meet its demands regarding the treatment of transgender students. The group says the district must not retaliate against teachers who are “standing for the dignity and privacy of all students and the rights of their parents,” require no teachers to be forced to use “false gender pronouns” or supervise locker rooms where transgender students shower or dress, recognize only the biological sex of students, require parental permission for club participation and ban all “classroom LGBTQ political activism.” Gradebook.

Negotiations impasse: The Indian River County teachers union declares a contract impasse with the school district after negotiations break down over pay raises and benefits. Brevard County teachers declared an impasse in talks with their district in mid-December, and Pasco County teachers say they will do the same if they can’t reach an agreement with the district later this month. Gradebook.

Romano appeals again: In October, former Hernando County superintendent Lori Romano unsuccessfully appealed her dismissal to the school board that fired her in the first place. Now she’s appealing again, this time arguing to the Fifth District Court of Appeal that the school board unfairly fired her. Gradebook.

Name change resisted: Leon County School Board members are cool to a request to change the name of Lively Technical Center to Lively Technical College. “We think adding just that one word will open the door a little wider for students who may not have considered us before,” says center director Shelly Bell. But school board member Alva Striplin says the change would be “misleading our students into thinking they have the possibility to get an (associate degree).” Tallahassee Democrat.

Personnel moves: The Duval County School Board approves the appointments of five high-level school district administrators. Dana Kriznar, who’s been with the district 33 years, is the new deputy to Superintendent Diana Greene and will lead the day-to-day operations. Sonita Young becomes chief of staff, Victoria Schultz assistant superintendent of human resources, Wayne Green chief of schools and Julio Nazario-Valle region superintendent of turnaround schools. Florida Times-Union.

Tackling school maintenance: In 2014, the Osceola County School District had a growing list of deferred school maintenance projects. The district got out from under with a specific plan of attack and help from voters, who approved a half-cent addition to the sales tax. Facilities Net.

More lawsuits against board: Two more mothers of Miami-Dade students say they will file lawsuits against the school board, alleging it was negligent in not protecting their daughters from being sexually assaulted by Wendell Nibbs, a physical education teacher at Brownsville Middle School in Miami. Nibbs was arrested in November 2017 and accused of raping a 15-year-old, whose mother recently filed a lawsuit. The mothers’ lawyers  believe there are more victims. Miami Herald.

Substitute arrested: A Sarasota County substitute teacher is arrested and accused of spreading feces over park tables and grills where her principal was having a birthday party for her daughter. Deputies say Heather Carpenter, 42, was angry at Phillippi Shores Elementary School principal Allison Foster. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WWSBWFLA. WTSP.

Opinions on schools: To have a grand bargain for the future of education in Florida, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and Florida Education Association president Fedrick Ingram have to overcome 10 years of antagonism. Doug Tuthill, redefinED. Substitute teaching may be the most thankless job in schools. Hats off to those who do it. Terri Friedlander, Florida Today. Students should be allowed to express their freedom of speech, but they need to be held accountable for their actions on social media. Sophia Speights, Gainesville Sun. School safety is a balancing act. Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood believes that students will be just as safe with an armed guardian instead of a sworn law enforcement officer, at a fraction of the cost. If he’s right, it’s an idea worth expanding to other middle schools. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student enrichment: The Brevard County School District is tailoring its science lessons for 6th-graders toward living and working on Mars. “We want to look toward the future now,” says Michelle Ferro, a science teacher for the district. “And the future is our current 6th-graders will be the first people, or the age of the people, who will walk on Mars.” Florida Today. Florida Elementary School students returned after the holidays to a school brightened with four murals on walls, courtesy of four artists hired by a bottled water company. WFOR.