Escambia discarding graphic handbook test, state appeals order against law, book bans and more

Around the state: Escambia County school officials are discarding a test from the student handbook after a question on it caused an uproar among parents, the state is appealing a judge’s temporary injunction against a new law that restricts discussions about race in workplace training, a report says Florida is second in the nation in book bans in the past year, the judge in the Parkland school shooter’s sentencing trial rejects a defense request to step down, Charlotte County voters are being asked to renew a 1-mill property tax for schools, Flagler schools report a record in student enrollment, and a Lee County school resource officer is being called a hero for performing CPR on a baby who had stopped breathing while she and her mother were in car line. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: The husband of the Broward County school superintendent was recently hired by the school district as the director of business services, accountability and performance. Carl Cartwright, whose wife Vickie Cartwright leads the Broward district, is a former superintendent of the Berlin Area School District in Wisconsin and a current law enforcement officer. He will oversee mandates related to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, which includes tracking incidents of crime and violence, and will serve as a “conduit between district operations and Miami-Dade schools police as it pertains to any emergency response.” His salary is $91,335, and he began work Friday. Miami Herald.

Broward: The judge presiding over the sentencing trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz has denied a defense request that she step down because she criticized defense attorneys in court over their decision to rest their case last Wednesday without advance notice. Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer called the defense request “legally insufficient.” Scherer said she would issue written rulings this week on other defense motions. Prosecutors will begin their rebuttal of the defense case next week. Sun-Sentinel. Associated Press. WLRN. WTVJ. WPLG.

Hillsborough: The school district has started using an app that will help parents track their child’s school bus. Here Comes the Bus will send alerts to parents when the bus leaves school and when it’s within a designated radius of their home. About 90,000 students ride buses. WTVT. WFTS.

Orange, central Florida: A former principal who was accused a year ago of threatening a neighbor with her car has pleaded guilty to the reduced charges of disorderly conduct and a reckless driving charge as part of a plea agreement, and will serve 18 months of probation. Prosecutors said Kimrey Sheehan, 61, sped her car toward her neighbor and two other people, forcing them to get out of the road to avoid being hit. Sheehan had been in an ongoing dispute with the neighbor. She was the principal at Hunter’s Creek Elementary School at the time of her arrest last October. She was suspended by the district and later retired. Orlando Sentinel. Here’s a list of the books that have been banned at schools in several central Florida districts. WKMG.

Duval: A Westside High School student was arrested Friday and accused of having a gun and drugs on campus during a football game. School officials said the items were found in the student’s car in the parking lot. Principal Vincent Foster said the school would begin using metal detectors to screen all student belongings. WJAX. WJXT.

Polk: More than 20 hate, extremism, anti-Semitism, or terrorism incidents have been reported in the county since 2016, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Two of the incidents were reported by schools: an anti-Semitic, conspiracy-filled letter faxed to a Florida Southern College department and two Jewish students being harassed at an unnamed school. The ADL is an international Jewish organization based in New York. Lakeland Ledger.

Lee: A school resource officer at Three Oaks Elementary School is being called a hero after performing CPR on a baby who had stopped breathing as her sister was being dropped off at school earlier this month. The child’s mother had taken her out of the car and was looking for help when Bill Weaver arrived and began chest compressions and back thrusts to get the child breathing again. WFTX. WBBH. WINK.

Manatee, Sarasota: A man who filed and lost a lawsuit against the school board alleging that school books contained obscene material and should be removed has said he is now dropping all legal action. After a county judge ruled that Robert Craft didn’t have the standing to file a suit, Craft said he intended to sue the judge, contending that she had deprived him of his rights, of fraud and breach of the peace. Last week, he withdrew that complaint and said he would no longer pursue any lawsuits. He did not explain his decision. WUSF. Sarasota school board member Bridget Ziegler has criticized a gay advocacy organization for posting a flyer in a school that advertised the Queercon event held last weekend. She said “a public school setting … is not the appropriate place for this event promotion.” Charlotte Sun. Forty-eight Manatee and Sarasota students have been named 2023 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. Thirty are from the Pine View School in Sarasota County. Students are selected by the results of the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Finalists will be announced in February. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Escambia: District officials announced Monday that a test in the student handbook will be discontinued after questions on it caused an uproar among parents. The test asked middle- and high-school students questions about a scenario in which a 17-year-old girl sends nude photos to her boyfriend, which get distributed after they break up. The girl was then harassed, dropped out of school and committed suicide. “After the issue was brought to my attention and listening directly to the concerns of parents who brought this issue forward, I’ve made the decision to order the test be discontinued from future use,” said Superintendent Tim Smith. “I am asking our executive leadership team to evaluate the decision-making protocols used in this case and to make recommendations for improvement.” That report is due Oct. 28. Pensacola News Journal. WEAR.

Martin: A school resource officer at the Treasure Coast Classical Academy charter school in Stuart accidentally discharged his gun inside the school Monday. No one was injured, and the sheriff’s office is investigating. TCPalm. WPTV. WPEC.

Charlotte: County voters are being asked Nov. 8 to renew a 1-mill property tax that will raise money to hire teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, academic coaches and security aides, and pay for supplies and repairs. It was first approved in 2018, and expires June 30, 2023. Charlotte Sun.

Flagler: Student enrollment is at a record 13,581 this year, according to district officials, which includes 12,681 in the nine traditional schools and virtual school, and 900 at the district’s only charter school, Imagine School at Town Center. The next head count is Oct. 21. Flagler Live.

Colleges and universities: The University of South Florida is partnering with MacDill Air Force Base for the next three years to offer students internships, research projects, guest speaker and mentors. Included is a $10 million agreement over five years with the USF Institute of Applied Engineering to provide “operations research, data science, war-gaming, human dynamics modeling, rapid prototyping, subject matter expertise and conference support.” Tampa Bay Times. Florida Polytechnic University is offering the country’s first data analytics certificate for freshmen. according to officials at the Lakeland school. It’s an 18-credit program beginning right after graduation that gives students the chance to earn credits and an accelerated path to technical certifications. St. Pete Catalyst. The University of Florida is having some success in increasing the number of black students, with president Kent Fuchs saying last month that enrollment of black students was up for this fall even though the overall number of students is about the same. But there are still challenges: more than half the black students who were accepted into UF chose to go elsewhere. Gainesville Sun. A University of Tampa student who was shot and killed when he tried to get into a stranger’s car in Tampa last weekend has been identified as Carson Senfield of Orchard Park, N.Y. The driver of the car said he feared for his life and shot Senfield, 19, in the chest. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA.

State appeals order: The state is appealing a judge’s decision to issue a temporary injunction against the new state law that restricts how race-related issues can be addressed in workplace training. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker blocked the law last month, agreeing with several businesses that the restrictions violate the First Amendment. Florida is appealing to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. News Service of Florida. Politixo Florida.

Florida 2nd in book bans: Florida trails only Texas in the number of books banned in public schools between July 2021 and June 2022, according to a report issued Monday by the national free speech organization PEN America. Florida banned 566 books in 21 of the state’s 67 school districts. Texas banned 801 in 22 districts. PEN said the banned materials most often concern LGBTQ issues and/or feature nonwhite characters. Florida Politics. Florida Phoenix.

Around the nation: Even as student enrollment has declined in many American public school districts, hiring has gone up and in some states is hitting all-time highs. Data show that in 1950, schools had an average of 52 staffers per 1,000 students. That number has gone up to 58 in 1960, 74 in 1970, 100 in 1980, 109 in 1990, 121 in 2000, 129 in 2010 and 135 in 2020. The report shows that most of the increases have been for non-teaching roles such as counselors and specialists like reading coaches, instructional aides to work with English learners and students with disabilities, and more vice principals and administrators. The 74.

Opinions on schools: It is Hispanic Heritage Month, and Floridians have cause to celebrate a radical improvement in Hispanic literacy seen over the last two decades. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED. The Florida Republican Party’s claim that teacher pay has moved from 26th in the country to 9th under Gov. Ron DeSantis is false, according to an Associated Press fact-check. Average Florida teacher salaries are now 48th in the nation, down from 47th when DeSantis took office. Starting teacher pay is now 11th in the United States. Associated Press.

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BY NextSteps staff