Holocaust principal fired, NAEP tests, teacher contracts, funding plea and more

Holocaust principal fired: William Latson, the Palm Beach County high school principal who told a parent in April 2018 that he couldn’t say if the Holocaust was a historical fact, has been fired by the school board in a 5-2 vote. Officially, Latson lost his job at Spanish River High School because he failed to return phone calls from his bosses in the days after his remarks caused an uproar. Latson has indicated he will appeal the decision in state administrative court because he said it was arbitrary and politically motivated. Palm Beach Post. Sun Sentinel. Miami Herald. WPTV.

Nation’s Report Card: More reports on the National Assessment of Educational Progress math and reading test results, commonly called the Nation’s Report Card, both nationally and in Florida school districts. Highlights in Florida include good performances by charter school students, and the top ranking for the Miami-Dade County School District among 27 large, urban school districts that participated in the testing. Florida Department of Education. Politico Florida. WUSF. WFSU. WJXT. WFOR. WPLG. WTVJ. redefinED. Chalkbeat. Education Week. T.H.E. Journal. Associated Press. Orlando Sentinel.

Contract negotiations: The Orange County teachers union has rejected the school district’s latest contract offer. Union officials say 90 percent of the teachers don’t want a two-year deal that could mean no raises next year and that increases health insurance premiums. The union is asking for a one-year deal with raises of $3,000 or $2,400 for most teachers and no increases in insurance premiums. Orlando Sentinel. Hernando County teachers and district officials reach an agreement on a contract that gives teachers 4.25 percent raises but has higher health insurance premiums. The deal must be approved by the union and the school board. Gradebook. Brevard County school officials hope the just-approved 4.1 percent pay raises for teachers — and up to 6.5 percent for veteran teachers — will help slow the exodus of educators from the district. More than 800 teachers have resigned in the past three-plus years. Florida Today.

Mental health funding: Bay County’s school superintendent took to Twitter this week to plead for money to provide mental health services to students still suffering from last year’s hurricane. Bill Husfelt’s tweet, which tagged President Trump, Florida senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, read: “Baker Acted 3 students today – that’s 97 since Aug. We need help & 13 months after MICHAEL have rec’d ZERO mental health $$ from Fed Disaster/FEMA. Waiting could literally kill us!” A frustrated Husfelt said, “We are overwhelmed. Our counselors are overwhelmed.” Spectrum News 13. WMBB.

Charter school name change: Officials at the Cape Coral Charter School Authority are asking the Lee County School Board for permission to remove the name of Christa McAuliffe from its elementary school as part of a plan to rebrand and market the financially struggling system. McAuliffe was the New Hampshire teacher/astronaut who died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. The new name would be Oasis North Elementary, reflecting the names of the other schools in the system. Fort Myers News-Press.

Charter appeals takeover: Representatives from the Lincoln Memorial Academy in Palmetto are appealing the charter school’s takeover by the Manatee County School District. The district seized control of the school in July, citing financial problems. Lincoln officials appealed to an administrative law judge, who affirmed in a ruling last month that the district has the authority and acted properly in taking over the school. Bradenton Herald.

‘Medical nexus’ decision delayed: The Florida Board of Governors is delaying consideration of a $12 million request from the University of North Florida to build a “medical nexus” in Palm Coast. The plan, which was approved by the UNF board of trustees in June, would create a center to consolidate education, research and technology development. The Flagler County School District would be among the partners in the initiative that promises a “classroom to careers” path for students in the medical program at Flagler Palm Coast High School. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Rezoning protest: Some Pasco County parents are mounting a campaign to protest the proposed rezoning of about 1,000 students from their subdivision to attend Cypress Creek Middle-High School. Among their concerns: the school is too far away, there are left turns onto busy roads, their established subdivision should get preference over newer neighborhoods, and they shouldn’t be penalized because of poor planning by the school district and county government. The first public hearing is Nov. 5. Gradebook.

Family Empowerment Scholarships: Nearly 500 students from Marion and Alachua counties have received Family Empowerment Scholarships from the state to attend private schools. The newest school vouchers have gone to 334 students from qualified low- and middle-income families in Marion County, and 162 in Alachua County. All 18,000 scholarships were awarded to state students this year. Gainesville Sun.

Mold in school building: Mold has been found in a classroom in the auditorium at Jensen Beach High School in Martin County, possibly from a leaking roof. School officials say moldy equipment in the classroom has been removed, a door will be replaced, the air handler will be cleaned and the roof will be repaired. WPTV.

Vote against bonuses: Clay County school officials are urging the Legislature to drop the Best and Brightest Scholarship Program of giving bonuses to educators and instead use the money for raises to all teachers, including those in preschools. They contend higher salaries will be more effective in recruiting and retaining teachers than giving bonuses. Clay Today.

School bus recalls: About 70 Martin County school buses and 145 from Collier County are affected by the nationwide recall by Thomas Built Buses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a recall earlier this month of about 50,000 buses with seats that may not adequately protect students in a crash. TCPalm. Naples Daily News.

Free flu shots for students: Free flu shots are being given to Duval County School District students at various schools through Nov. 14. Students will need consent forms signed by their parents. WJXT.

Testaments to teachers: Lauren Walker, 38, who teaches special-needs students at St. Lucie West Centennial High School, likes to use visuals and videos to convey basic concepts to her students, and believes that treating her students equally is a key to her success. TCPalm.

Vaping suit considered: Palm Beach County School Board members agree to hire two law firms to research a potential lawsuit against the e-cigarette company Juul Labs over the “epidemic of youth vaping.” Palm Beach Post.

A grade-buying myth: A rumor racing through social media that Orange Park High School students could buy points to improve their grades and at the same time raise money for their school was shot down by Clay County school officials. It turns out the letter posted on a local Instagram account was used by a teacher as part of an AP world history class project about taking information out of context. Florida Times-Union. WJAX.

Bear delays student pickup: The end of the school day on Wednesday was disrupted at Sebring Middle School in Highlands County when a black bear was spotted in a tree near the school. Students who were walking or riding bikes were delayed from leaving until the bear wandered off after about an hour. WFLA. WTSP.

Educators and the law: An Osceola County teacher has been arrested and accused of slamming a student to the ground. Police say they have a video that shows Jason Parks, 44, an environmental science teacher at St. Cloud High School, pushing a girl against a wall outside a classroom and then slamming her to the ground. Orlando Sentinel. Charges of interfering with an arrest have been dropped after a Polk County school counselor completed a deferred prosecution program that included a stress seminar. Marcus Franklin, a guidance counselor at Ridge Community High School in Davenport, was accused of pushing deputies at the school as they tried to arrest a student for battery. Lakeland Ledger.

More abuse complaints: A fourth parent has come forward with allegations of locker room abuse within the Oviedo High School football program. The mother of a student says there has been bullying, hazing, fighting and even a noose hung. School officials say they are investigating. WFTV.

Opinions on schools: Florida teachers are adequately compensated. Instead of spending $603 million to boost the starting teacher salary, state legislators should look for other, truly effective ways to improve school outcomes. Timothy Benson, Miami Herald.

Student enrichment: NASA officials are testing an idea from students who took part in a program at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables. The idea was to grow short and tall plans in a single planter to give astronauts a wider variety of plant-based foods to eat while at the International Space Station. Miami Herald. Medal of Honor winner Thomas Norris was given a hero’s welcome as he arrived at Paul R. Smith Middle School in Pasco County to talk with students. The school was named after a 2005 medal winner who was killed in action. Eight Pasco schools hosted medal winners, who were in town last weekend for a convention. Tampa Bay Times.