One set of school rules urged, COO’s firing up for vote, armed assistants OK and more

Same rules for all schools: Charter and private schools would have to follow the same rules as traditional public schools under a bill filed for the legislative session that begins Jan. 14. Senate Bill 632 would require all teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree unless they have a work experience exemption, all schools to build under the same construction guidelines, all students take the same tests and meet the same academic expectations, and have every school receive grades from the state. The sponsor, state Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, said “there should be parity no matter what type of school you choose.” Erika Donalds, a charter school operator and former Collier County School Board member, said, “I just find it interesting that traditional public school advocates complain about the mandates from the state being stifling to their programs, yet they want the same regulations for the other programs rather than free their programs from the burdensome regulations.” Gradebook.

COO’s firing proposed: A Sarasota County school administrator should be fired for sexually harassing his assistant, Superintendent Todd Bowden is recommending to the board. An external investigation that followed allegations of sexual harassment against Chief Operating Officer Jeff Maultsby substantiated the charges. “It is clear Mr. Maultsby behaved inappropriately, and his actions are unbefitting of a school district employee,” Bowden said in a statement. “As such, I have recommended his termination to the school board for review and approval on Nov. 19.” The investigation also concluded that Bowden did not adequately address the complaints until they were widely reported. The school board meets Nov. 5 to discuss the report. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WWSB. Patch.

Security in schools: Duval County school safety assistants may be armed in schools, a circuit judge has ruled. A year ago a group of parents filed a lawsuit challenging the district’s decision to arm trained safety assistants, arguing that state law allowed only law enforcement officers to carry guns at schools. Circuit Court Judge Robert M. Dees ruled that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, passed after 17 people died at during a shooting at the school in 2018, gave assistants, also known as guardians, the authority to carry guns in schools. Florida Times-Union. WJAX. Thousands of Florida teachers are learning how to have challenging conversations with students from online computer simulations. It’s part of the 2018 law aimed at improving school security and mental health services for students. WUSF.

School capital funds cuts: Capital spending at U.S. K-12 schools declined by about 20 percent between 2008 and 2017, according to an analysis of state data by the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities. The decline in spending was most pronounced in Florida, from about $7 billion to about $2.3 billion, a loss of about 67 percent. “There’s a storm coming, and everybody knows it,” said Danny Adelman, executive director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. The 74.

Pay cut for board: Pay for each of the seven members of the Lee County School Board has been cut by $2,373 a year to comply with a new state law that requires them to be paid no more than a first-year teacher in the district. Starting teachers in Lee County make $40,500, while board members were being paid $42,873. Board members say the cut is a non-issue. “I believe it’s fair,” said District 4 board member Debbie Jordan. “That’s what the teachers are making, so I see no issue with it being that way.” Fort Myers News-Press.

School reopens: Lakeland Kathleen Middle School reopened Monday, more than a week after it was damaged by a tornado. Almost 250 of the school’s 755 students will attend classes in portables until the school gets a new roof and other repairs are made. Students will not have to make up the lost days, school officials say. Lakeland Ledger. WTVT.

Charter high school approved: The Okaloosa County School Board unanimously approves a contract for the Destin High School charter school. The school will open next August to 9th- and 10th-graders, then expand to 11th grade in 2021 and 12th grade in 2022. Northwest Florida Daily News. WEAR.

Charter changes urged: A report from the Center for American Progress, which is a progressive and pro-charter organization, is calling on the federal government to switch the emphasis in charter school spending from new schools to supporting existing ones. About 85 percent of the $400 million in federal spending for charters now goes to new schools. “If we think that charter schools are worth investing in, then it would be good policy to invest in helping the 7,000 or so that are out there,” said the study’s author, Neil Campbell, who is director of K-12 innovation at the center. The 74.

Superintendent search: The Martin County School Board begins a search for its first appointed superintendent by meeting with the Florida School Boards Association, which is helping with the selection process. County residents approved the switch from elected superintendents to appointed ones last November, and district leader Laurie Gaylord’s term ends in November 2020. TCPalm.

Teachers honored: The top five teacher of the year nominees are announced by the Bay County School District. The winner will be named Dec. 7. Panama City News Herald. Fifty-three teachers of distinction have been chosen by the Collier County School District. A selection committee will now pick six of the 53 to receive a Golden Apple Award. Naples Daily News.

District’s drug policy: Pasco County school officials are proposing a policy change to treat lookalike drugs as if they were authentic when disciplining students who bring them to schools. Student services director Melissa Musselwhite said the district can’t tell the two apart, and isn’t required by law to do so. The school board is expected to vote on the change today. Gradebook.

Free flu shots for students: The Florida Department of Health in Flagler County is offering free flu shots in schools Nov. 4-18 for school employees and students who have parental consent forms. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Funding tour continues: The Florida Education Association’s Fund Our Future bus tour stops in Tallahassee to push for greater school funding, higher teacher salaries, an end to “high stakes” testing of students, small class sizes and a certified teacher in every classroom. The 50-stop state tour began Oct. 21 in Panama Beach and ends Nov. 23 in Orlando. Tallahassee Democrat. Florida Politics. WJXT. Capitol News Service.

School board elections: Anita Burnette has announced that she’s a candidate for the District 2 seat on the Volusia County School Board in 2020. She joins Marcey Kinney in the race to succeed Ida Wright, who has said she’s leaving the board. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

School bus recall: Leon County school officials are checking with Thomas Built Buses to see if any of the district buses is being recalled because the seats may not properly protect students in a crash. Tallahassee Democrat.

Use of restraints investigated: Two employees of First Coast High School in Jacksonville are under investigation for their use of restraints on students with emotional or behavioral disabilities. Both are paraprofessionals in the school’s Pride program. WJAX.

Teacher may lose license: An administrative law judge has recommended that a former music teacher in Manatee County permanently lose his teaching certificate. Quentin Peterson was accused of having a romantic relationship with a former student at Lincoln Memorial Academy in Palmetto. He resigned while under investigation, and was later hired by the Sarasota County school district as a substitute teacher before being arrested and accused of possessing child pornography. Bradenton Herald.

Teacher pleads to charges: A Palm Beach County teacher has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of battery for punching a 14-year-old student in the face last year. Dennis Hall, 28, who taught science at Bear Lakes Middle School in West Palm Beach, was sentenced to 20 days in jail, a year of probation and a voluntary resignation from the district. Palm Beach Post.

Opinions on schools: Retaining Sarasota County School District Superintendent Todd Bowden in the facing of a troubling report about how he handled an allegation of sexual harassment will undermine public confidence in the district, which will have far-reaching impacts. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Student enrichment: About 330 south Florida schools and 74,000 students are taking part in the Green School Challenge started by the Miami nonprofit Dream in Green. Miami Herald. The advanced chorus at Hartsfield Elementary School in Tallahassee has been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in January. Tallahassee Democrat. Nine Marion County high school seniors are named semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Marion County School District.