DeSantis vetoes civics education bill, transgender law challenged in court, new laws and more

Surprise veto for civics bill: Gov. Ron DeSantis has stunned legislators by vetoing a bill with unanimous, bipartisan support that would have developed a civics literacy program emphasizing student engagement. DeSantis said the bill sought “to further ‘so-called’ action ethics but does so in a way that risks promoting the preferred orthodoxy of two particular institutions,” the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the YMCA. State Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, one of the bill’s sponsors, said he was “shocked” the bill was vetoed and that the governor’s rationale was “amorphous at best.” Tampa Bay Times. Politico Florida. Florida Phoenix. The governor also vetoed a bill that would have allowed the criminal records of thousands of juveniles to be expunged after completing a behavioral program. Miami Herald. DeSantis did sign 94 bills into laws, including a parents bill of rights over the education and medical care of their children, another that allows parents to opt their children out of sex education classes, one that prohibits the arrest of children under the age of 7, a bill allowing persons with concealed carry permits to have a gun in a church even if it has a school on the property, protection for colleges and universities from COVID-related lawsuits, requiring school resource officers be trained in mental health crisis intervention, and more. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Politico Florida. WFLA. Orlando Sentinel. News Service of Florida.

Transgender law challenged: A 13-year-old transgender girl soccer player and her parents have filed a court challenge against a new Florida law than bans transgender females from participating in high school and college women’s sports. The lawsuit claims the law is unconstitutional and “ignores basic medical science” about transgender students. The athlete, called D.N. and Daisy in the suit, has been playing in girls sports for several years, according to lawyers from the Human Rights Campaign and the Arnold & Porter firm. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Orlando Sentinel. Politico Florida.

New Florida laws: One hundred and sixty-two new state laws take effect today. Among them are an expansion of school choice, a moment of silence at the beginning of every school day in every K-12 classroom, a ban on transgender females participating in high school and college women’s sports, a new curriculum for civics education, allowing guns to be carried into churches even if they have schools on their property, a requirement for colleges and universities to conduct annual surveys to assess the schools’ “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity,” and mandatory CPR classes for high school students. WTVT. Politico Florida. Florida Politics. WPTV. Florida Politics. WFLA. News Service of Florida. WTXL.

Around the state: The bodies of two Miami-Dade County students were pulled from the rubble of the collapsed condo in Surfside on Wednesday, a report from the Florida Department of Children and Families says that a private school in Lakeland failed to care properly for a 17-year-old student who died in 2020, an inspector general report says the Miami-Dade superintendent’s foundation should return a $1.57 million donation from a company that does business with the district, teacher contract negotiations get off to a contentious start in Orange County, and a fight over face masks disrupts a Leon County School Board meeting. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: The school district’s inspector general has found that Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s foundation violated no laws in soliciting a $1.57 million donation from a company the district did business with, but recommended that the Foundation for New Education Initiatives return the donation from K12 Inc. Carvalho, who solicited the donation to give teachers gift cards for struggling with online learning software created by K12, disagreed with the recommendation. FNEI’s board of directors will make a decision at its next meeting in October. Miami Herald. The bodies of two county students, 4 and 10 years old, were pulled from the collapsed condominium in Surfside, Miami Dade County Mayor Danielle Levine Cava announced Wednesday. The confirmed death toll is now 18, with 145 building residents still missing. Florida Phoenix. Associated Press. WLRN. WPLG. WSVN. WFOR. WTVJ.

Hillsborough: Five more schools are getting new principals in the fall, Superintendent Addison Davis announced this week: Deanna Fisher, who had been the assistant principal at Sumner High, takes the top position at Shields Middle School; Tara Horn graduates from assistant principal to principal at Buckhorn Elementary; Kenya Griffin, who was a principal in Duval County, takes over at Lamb Elementary; Natalie Corsanico, an assistant at DeSoto Elementary, will take command at Lockhart Elementary; and Victoria Morse, who was an assistant at Mary Bryant Elementary, will be the principal at Woodbridge Elementary. Tampa Bay Times.

Orange: The district has kicked off contract negotiations with teachers by offering bonuses and small raises this year. Teachers would get $2,000 bonuses, and others not covered by the state’s bonus plan, such as deans, guidance counselors, librarians and others, would get $1,000. But teachers rated highly effective would get raises of just $175, and effective teachers would receive $125. The teachers union called the offer “insulting,” and proposed $3,000 raises for highly effective teachers and $2,400 for effective ones. The next meeting is July 16. Orlando Sentinel.

Polk: A private school in Lakeland failed to properly care for a 17-year-old student who complained about stomach pain for a month before dying, according to a report from the Florida Department of Children and Families. The faith-based Lakeland Girls Academy, which takes in girls 13-17 who are having “life issues,” fed the girl soup and Pepto-Bismol and prayed for her, but didn’t get her medical attention until she was found unresponsive in her room. She died May 19, 2020. WTSP. WTVT. WFTS.

Pinellas: Hundreds of students are attending a summer rising kindergarten program to help them get ready for a fulltime classroom schedule. It’s a voluntary four-week program for 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds who didn’t attend kindergarten last year. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the children to get into the kindergarten space,” said Anona Elementary School principal Ann Welsh. Tampa Bay Times.

Lake: About 80 students have signed up for a new aviation program at Eustis High School. East Ridge and South Lake high schools also have programs, and Umatilla High has an aviation club. All give students the opportunity to assemble an airplane from scratch, take flying lessons and take dual-enrollment classes from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Spectrum News 13.

Escambia: A new school opening this fall in Pace will allow parents to decide to send their children fulltime or attend classes part-time and be home-schooled the rest of the time. The K-12 St. Francis Classical Academy calls itself a “homeschool cooperative school.” Students will attend classes at school four days a week. On Fridays, they can be home-schooled or go on an extracurricular field day with other students. “This university style, with the four-day school week and the full- or part-time attendance, is something we wanted to make available to our own kids but also to the students that we teach,” said lead tutor Bobby McGee. Pensacola News Journal.

Leon: A school board meeting that became contentious over the district’s face mask policy, with most members of the audience vocally objecting to any mask requirement, ended temporarily when board member Alva Striplin walked out. Colleague DeeDee Rasmussen, who was absent because of a family issue, came later so the board would have a quorum. Superintendent Rocky Hanna said parents would be surveyed for their views on masks, and the results will be discussed at the July 13 meeting. Tallahassee Democrat. WTXL. WCTV.

Alachua: Reading scores of the district’s 3rd-graders were down by 4 percentage points this spring, according to school officials. In 2019, the last year the tests were given, 57 percent of 3rd-graders had passing scores. This year, it’s 53 percent. Jenny Wise, the district’s executive director of K-12 education, cited school closings and subsequent remote learning as significant factors. Gainesville Sun. Six new principals have been appointed: Jesely Alavarez Masencup at Terwilliger Elementary School, Richard Bell at Glen Springs Elementary, Kristopher J. Bracewell at Loften High, Mistie Rodriguez at Stephen Foster Elementary, Sharon A.  Sailor at Hidden Oak Elementary, and Leroy Williams at Eastside High. Gainesville Sun. Diyonne McGraw, who was removed by Gov. DeSantis as a school board member because she doesn’t live in the district she was elected to represent, is suing to force the governor to detail to a judge why he removed her. Gainesville Sun.

Santa Rosa: Alice Stephens, a school bus driver for the district for 40 years, has died of cancer. She was 83. School officials called her a “dedicated driver” who “bled yellow.” WEAR.

Flagler: Three new principals have been appointed by Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt: Ryan Andrews at Indian Trails Middle School, Travis Lee at Rymfire Elementary and Erin Quinn at iFlagler, the virtual school. Two other administrative positions were also filled with Marquez Jackson being named director of student services and Dontarrious Rowls chosen as director of transportation. Flagler Live.

Monroe: Two more schools will have new principals in the fall. Larry Schmiegel, who was the principal of Poinciana Elementary School, is taking the same job at Key West High School. Darren Pais, who has been the assistant principal and technology specialist at Key Largo School, was promoted to the principal’s job. Key West Citizen.

Colleges and universities: The NCAA’s board of directors approved a policy that will allow college athletes to be compensated for the use of their names, images and likenesses. Wednesday’s decision came as laws in Florida and a dozen other states go into effect today that would allow athletes to be paid. Associated Press. Politico. Patricia Okker took over Wednesday as president of New College in Sarasota. She replaces the retiring Donal O’Shea. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Edward Waters College in Jacksonville is now Edward Waters University, president Dr. A. Zachary Faison announced Wednesday. The HBCU offers an online master’s program in business administration. WTLV. WJAX. Florida Gulf Coast University is proposing to start a doctorate program for mental health counselor education and supervision. The Florida Board of Governors will have to approve the plan. Fort Myers News-Press.

Around the nation: A new poll of about 1,700 registered voters shows that nearly three-quarters of Americans favor school choice, including 83 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of independents. Support has gone up 10 percentage points since the April 2020 poll by RealClear Opinion Research. redefinED.

Education podcasts: State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, talks about the Legislature’s expansion of school choice with Step Up For Students president Doug Tuthill. redefinED.

Opinions on schools: Sure, support a proposed amendment on sports betting if you believe in competition and free markets — but not because the businesses pushing it are promising money for schools. Because politicians in this state have a long track record of doing everything in their power to avoid properly funding public education — and following the voters’ will. Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel. It’s insulting to college-age students to suggest that they are malleable young people just waiting for a sociology teacher to tell them what to think. They are what we all once were: young, largely confident and free-thinking people eager to get their first jobs and enjoy their independence. They’re no one’s puppets. Ken Paulson, Palm Beach Post.