DeSantis signs Parental Rights in Education bill, another superintendent stepping aside, and more

Parents’ rights bill signed: A controversial bill banning Florida teachers from leading classroom lessons on gender identity or sexual orientation for K-3 students, and restricting lessons for older students unless they are “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate,” was signed Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The law, which takes effect July 1, also allows parents to sue schools that break the law, and requires schools to get parental permission before treating students for any health-care problem. “We will make sure that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination,” DeSantis said when signing the bill at a Hernando County charter school founded by Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s wife Anne. Critics of the bill say it endangers LGBTQ students, and officials from the gay rights advocacy group Equality Florida said they will challenge the law in court. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Politico Florida. USA Today Florida Network. Tampa Bay Times. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Sun Sentinel. Tallahassee Democrat. Florida Phoenix. Florida Politics. New York Times. NPR. Reuters. A lawsuit brought by two parents against the Leon County School District nearly two years ago was the spark that led to the creation and passage of H.B. 1557. Politico Florida. WFSU.

Around the state: President Joe Biden’s proposed fiscal 2023 budget includes a 15.6 percent increase in education spending with money raised from a 20 percent minimum tax on income from households worth at least $100 million, Volusia’s school superintendent says he won’t be seeking an extension of his contract that expires in December, the Palm Beach County principal who refused to say whether the Holocaust was a factual event reaches a settlement with the state over his educator’s certificate, Brevard school board members are considering asking voters to approve a property tax increase to fund higher salaries for school employees, and a federal judge has been asked to block a 2021 state law that would require colleges and universities to distribute “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” surveys among students and employees. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: A 14-year-old student at Keys Gate Charter School in Homestead suffered a concussion when he was body-slammed to the ground Monday by an older, bigger student who was trying to take his cell phone. The incident was recorded. School officials said they are investigating. WSVN.

Palm Beach: The principal who was fired after telling a parent in 2018 that he couldn’t say whether the Holocaust was a factual event has reached an agreement with the Florida Department of Education. William Latson, who was the principal at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton, agreed to a letter of reprimand and three years of probation. The settlement also requires Latson to take a college Holocaust course and get at least a B grade if he ever wants to take a job requiring an educator’s certificate. Palm Beach Post. A second Royal Palm Beach High School student has died from injuries after he was hit by an out-of-control vehicle last Tuesday at a school bus stop. Fifteen-year-old Chand Wazir died Friday, according to the sheriff’s department. Classmate Tiana Johnson, also 15, died last Wednesday. Two other students who were treated for serious injuries have been released from hospitals. Palm Beach Post. Sun Sentinel. WPTV. WPEC.

Duval: Several students at Mandarin Middle School in Jacksonville were struck with pellets when a BB gun was discharged during a physical education class Monday. No one was seriously hurt, the gun was confiscated and the school police were notified. WJXT. WJAX.

Brevard: School board members are considering asking voters in November to approve a property tax increase to improve salaries for school employees. If placed on the ballot and approved, it would be the first increase in the millage rate since 2008. “I think we have really reached a point where we have to allow the community to weigh in on the issue and help us determine priorities,” board chair Misty Belford said. Colleague Matt Susin said any increases could help retain teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other employees. The issue will be discussed at today’s meeting. Florida Today.

Volusia: School Superintendent Scott Fritz said Monday he is not seeking an extension of his contract, which expires in December. He did not give a reason for the surprise announcement, but said he would release a statement by the end of the week. His decision comes as the school board was considering a review of his contract, which pays him $205,000 a year. At a meeting Feb. 22, two board members favored extending his contract while three said they didn’t have enough information to make a decision. Fritz began his tenure in December 2019, but took a leave of absence from July 2020 through February 2021 to undergo treatment for cancer. Daytona Beach News-Journal. WKMG. WFTV. WMFE.

St. Johns: Four-term school board member Bill Mignon said he will not run for re-election this year. “I’ve had quite a long tenure, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” said Mignon, 84. “But I think it’s important at this point in my life to step back and give an opportunity to someone else who is able to pick up and serve this fast-growing county.” Lauren Townsend Abell, Manila Clough, William Kelman and Doug Russo have filed to replace Mignon as the District 3 representative. Two other incumbents are running for re-election. Kelly Barrera is so far unopposed in District 4, while District 1’s Beverly Slough is being challenged by Nancy Tray. St. Augustine Record.

Sarasota: Thomas W. “Bill” Clyburn, who was one of the first black students to attend Sarasota High School in 1963 and who later worked as the dean of human services at Capella University, died last weekend of lung cancer. He was 74. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Marion: The district reported just four new coronavirus cases last week, the fewest since the pandemic began two years ago. Cases reached 513 for the week of Jan. 29-Feb. 4, and have been declining steadily since then. Ocala Star-Banner. School officials have launched an app that will allow parents to track their child’s school bus. The “Here Comes the Bus” app will also send parents alerts when there are delays or schedule changes. It’s available on Apple Store and Google Play, and users must have the school district’s access code, an e-mail address and the child’s student identification number to create an account. WKMG.

Colleges and universities: A federal judge has been asked to block a 2021 state law that would require colleges and universities to distribute “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” surveys among students and employees. A trial has been scheduled Sept. 19. News Service of Florida. An assistant professor at Florida Polytechnic University has received a $175,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study and develop a way to energy-efficient computing platforms. Lakeland Ledger.

Around the nation: President Joe Biden is proposing a 15.6 percent increase in education spending in his fiscal year 2023 budget released Monday. To help pay for the increase, Biden wants to impose a minimum 20 percent tax on the incomes of households worth $100 million or more. Associated Press. Chalkbeat. Education Week. K-12 Dive. American 4th- and 8th-graders are now taking the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, and Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, said she expects the scores to be down. The results of the tests are broken down by gender, race and socioeconomic status among all 50 states, and are used to create the Nation’s Report Card. The 74.

Opinions on schools: In the absence of education choice, battles over school curriculum will go on without ceasing. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED. School districts’ complaints that education choice hurts public schools offer an important lesson for Florida policymakers contemplating school choice scholarship expansion in next year’s legislative session: If you are going to be damned if you do and damned if you don’t, you probably ought to put your foot back on the accelerator and bring education choice to the thousands of Florida families that still need more options for their children. William Mattox, Florida Politics. Students and families who are most in need of educational choice should not be blamed for bureaucratic budget holes created by inaccurate enrollment forecasting. Michael T. Barrett, Tallahassee Democrat. There is reason to believe that higher teacher pay alone will not be enough to curb turnover. Burnout is another leading cause of teachers leaving the profession, but it may be reduced by quality support and mentorship by other teachers and school administrators. Katharine Harris, Gainesville Sun.