Case of ban on transgender athletes reopened, DeSantis sued over board appointment and more

Transgender case reopened: A federal judge is reopening the legal fight over a 2021 Florida law that bars transgender female students from playing on women’s sports teams after another court’s recent decision upheld a school district’s policy preventing a transgender male student from using boys bathrooms. The suit had been on hold for almost a year while an appeals court considered the challenge to the St. Johns County School Board decision to restrict bathroom usage. The state has been given 30 days to file a motion to dismiss the suit. News Service of Florida.

Around the state: A Broward man who won a school board seat in November but wasn’t sworn in because of eligibility questions is suing Gov. Ron DeSantis for appointing his replacement, Hillsborough school officials hold the first two of 10 community meetings this week over the district’s proposals to rezone schools, a history professor testifies that the state’s required surveys to measure “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” on college campuses are “problematic” in the first day of a lawsuit challenging the law, 20 Leon County schools are dropping the speed limit in school zones, and Ben Sasse will take over the University of Florida presidency Feb. 6. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: Parents who were dropping their children off Monday at the Allapattah Wynwood School found the gates locked and the school closed. Some parents said they were told the school was closing Dec. 23, but several others said  they received voice messages saying the school would reopen Monday. The day-care operation associated with the school has apparently not been affected. School Superintendent Jose Dotres said the 150 K-5 students will be placed in district schools. “By tomorrow morning, we should be able to register them. Transcripts are not going to be an impediment, documentation won’t be. We want these children in school,” Dotres said. A dispute within the family that has operated the school for 30 years reportedly led to the closure. WSVN. WTVJ. WFOR. WPLG.

Broward: Rod Velez, who was elected to the District 1 school board seat Nov. 8 but wasn’t sworn in because of eligibility questions, has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis for appointing a replacement. Velez was convicted of a felony aggravated battery charge in 1995, and decided not to be sworn in on Nov. 22 with the other members elected because his full rights hadn’t been restored. On Dec. 22, just minutes after he declared the seat vacant, DeSantis appointed Daniel Foganholi to it. Velez said the seat was declared vacant prematurely, that the state Clemency Board failed to promptly act on his request for restoration of his full civil rights, and that DeSantis exceeded his authority. Bryan Griffin, a spokesman for the governor, said, “As a convicted felon whose civil rights have not been restored, Velez could not qualify and does not qualify for the school board,” and called the lawsuit “meritless.” Sun-Sentinel. WPLG. WTVJ. Florida Politics. A Jewish day school scheduled to open this fall in Hallandale will offer casually observant Jewish students an opportunity to connect with their religious roots. reimaginED.

Hillsborough: On Monday, school district officials kicked off a week full of community meetings about the proposed rezoning of schools that could mean a school change for as many as 24,000 students. There are currently three options being considered that would balance enrollment, repurpose 12 schools and save $150 million. Schools that would be closed and used for other purposes are Adams Middle, Chamberlain High, Cleveland Elementary, Greco Middle, Jennings Middle, Just Elementary, Kimbell Elementary, Madison Middle, McLane Middle, Monroe Middle, Morgan Woods Elementary and Smith Middle. Superintendent Addison Davis said he will make a recommendation to the school board by the end of the month. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WTSP.

Palm Beach: The Holocaust education foundation inSIGHT Through Education is on the way to doubling its donations for programming for local students. Foundation co-president Kelly Warsaw said the group is increasing its donations to about $200,000 this school year to fight the rise in anti-semitism. Funding provides professional development for teachers and age-appropriate K-12 instruction for students on diversity, tolerance and acceptance. “You teach them the importance of kindness, and respect and acceptance of all,” Warsaw said. “Those are our main tenets. And that is really the reason we do what we’re doing.” WLRN.

Duval: Charges have been dropped against a Ribault High School dean who was arrested and accused of assaulting a student during an altercation at the school. Kevin Greene, 34, confronted a student who was skipping class. The student pushed Greene away, and Greene then took the student to the ground. Greene was arrested and placed on leave pending the results of the investigation. WJAX.

Clay: School officials are holding public hearings Thursday, Jan. 19 and Jan. 23 to get community input on the district’s five-year strategic plan. The plan lists five goals — student success; talent recruitment, development and retention; family and community engagement; safe and positive learning environments; and fiscal and operational efficiency — and each has proposed strategies and initiatives. Clay Today.

Leon: Twenty county schools are dropping school zone speed limits from 20 to 15 mph to comply with new state standards. “Bottom line, it’s safety,” said Florida Department of Transportation spokeman Ian Satter. “By lowering the speed limit, we are helping reduce the chances of crashes with pedestrians in those regions.” The statewide change also includes improving signage and installing flashing beacons in some school zones. Tallahassee Democrat. WTXL.

Colleges and universities: Ben Sasse will take over as president of the University of Florida on Feb. 6, he said in a farewell speech to the U.S. Senate. Gainesville Sun. Elected conservative lawmakers in red states are increasingly threatening tenure for professors at U.S. colleges and universities. The politicians said the review is needed for accountability. Critics contend it’s an attack on academics with liberal views. Associated Press. University of Florida officials on Monday reinstated restrictions on vehicular traffic on portions of Stadium Road, Newell Drive, Union Road and Buckman Drive. The restrictions are in effect from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays when classes are in session as a way to improve pedestrian safety. Mainstreet Daily News. Ambler Moss Jr., a University of Miami professor who helped establish a graduate international studies program and negotiated the United States-Panama Canal Treaties, died Dec. 27. He was 85. Miami Herald. John Wright II, a former professor and dean at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, died Dec. 31 at the age of 73. Independent Florida Alligator.

Survey suit testimony: In the first day of testimony in the case challenging the state’s decision to require “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” surveys on college and university campuses, a history professor at American University in Washington, D.C., said that the surveys are “highly problematic” and displayed a “willingness by decision-makers to assail what they perceive as liberal … ideology” at the schools. The state has argued that the surveys are simply a tool to “take the temperature of taxpayer-funded campuses. The survey provisions presuppose no diagnosis, prescribe no course of treatment, and predict no future action or consequence.” News Service of Florida.

Around the nation: The U.S. Supreme Court is asking the Biden administration to file a brief to help justices decide whether to hear an appeal by a North Carolina charter school defending its policy of requiring girls to wear skirts at school. Three students at Charter Day School in Leland, N.C., filed a suit accusing the school of violating their civil rights. A lower court has ruled that the policy is unconstitutional. Reuters. Education Week. About 96 percent of education apps used in schools or recommended by K-12 school officials share students’ personal information with third parties, according to a study conducted by Internet Safety Labs. K-12 Dive.

Opinions on schools: Florida can stay on top of the national education rankings by making state scholarships available for every student, encouraging K-12 innovation and improving the way that it helps students from disadvantaged communities. William Mattox, reimaginED.

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BY NextSteps staff