Filming fights prompts debate, graduation rates decline, Teachers Bill of Rights proposed and more

In the Legislature: Sen. Alexis Calatayud introduced legislation to create a Teachers Bill of Rights aimed at changing the rules around how teachers are certified, disciplined and investigated by state officials. SB 244 creates the Teacher Apprenticeship Program, introduces new eligibility criteria for the state’s Dual Enrollment Educator Scholarship and creates new requirements for the state Department of Education’s Board of Governor’s to administer the new scholarships it made. It also provides new regulations for teachers mentorships. WFLA.

Around the state:  Video of a brawl in Broward has stirred debate over filming fights, graduation rates declined in Leon and Collier, a lawsuit was filed against Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton and an Escambia board member wants to revisit how the superintendent is chosen. Here are details about those stories and other developments from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: Pastor Lorenzo Johnson Sr. recalled when Miami-Dade schools were desegregated. Johnson and his siblings were among the first Black students to enter what was then an all-white elementary school — Earlington Heights in Northwest Miami-Dade. “I want Black kids to realize and understand the history, and where we came from,” he said. CBS Miami.

Broward: When video of a brawl at Pembroke Pines High began to circulate, the principal let parents know that anyone involved could face discipline, including those who filmed it. But students have used videos to report incidents or provide evidence to administrators, authorities or their parents, and some question if punishing students sends a message to keep problems at school quiet. South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Palm Beach: The school district here pays more than $70 million each year in salary supplements to teachers and staff members for things that include coaching athletics or holding advanced degrees. But a review of the system that tracks some of the payments found a lack of records of who approved them and a large number of people with access to the payroll. A preliminary review by the district’s audit committee also found that people were overpaid thousands of dollars and that schools did not keep records of which employees were approved for supplemental pay. The Palm Beach Post.

Hillsborough: Rumors abounded among Hillsborough’s Black community that an erased cemetery was on the southern edge of King High School’s campus. In 2019, ground-penetrating radar found 145 of the nearly 270 graves that belonged to what was once marked as Ridgewood Cemetery, and nearly all were Black residents. On Monday, the school district unveiled a memorial marking the cemetery again. Tampa Bay Times.

Duval: A substitute teacher in Florida who posted a viral video of empty bookshelves in a school’s library was let go from their job. Insider.

Brevard: The state released a report on student mental health awareness and training and found that as of last summer, only 24% of of more than 8,000 Brevard Public Schools personnel completed mental health training required for staff since the Parkland shooting in 2018. WKMG.

Volusia: The school district here announced that the Volusia United Educators instructional bargaining unit has ratified the proposed agreements with the district regarding supplements and salaries. About 96% of personnel who voted approved the ratification of the agreements, and the school board will vote on the agreement during an upcoming meeting. If approved, the agreement would be submitted to the Florida Department of Education for final approval and release of funds. Yahoo News.

Sarasota: Two proposed changes to school district policies here caused a stir at a school board meeting last week, with several people opposing the changes due to safety concerns. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Manatee: A lawsuit filed recently against Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton accuses the private school’s administration of negligence that resulted in the injury of a student. The suit, filed on Feb. 10, alleges that a resident’s granddaughter was bullied, assaulted and strangled by another student while attending a Saint Stephen’s aftercare program. Bradenton Herald.

Escambia: District 1 Board Member Kevin Adams announced he has plans to resurface a longtime debate over how the district’s superintendent is chosen. Adams said he plans to bring a resolution to a school board meeting next month seeking a referendum that would decide if the superintendent is elected or appointed. The school board would need to vote in favor of asking to have the question put on the county ballot by the Escambia County Board of Commissioners. Pensacola News Journal.

Flagler: Superintendent Cathy Mittlestadt’s future in the district is now less certain after the school board’s latest discussion of her contract, which expires at the end of June. Flagler Live.

Graduation rates: Graduation rates for both Collier and Leon counties went down this year, according to data released by the Florida Department of Education.  Naples Daily News.

Student charged: A 17-year-old boy accused of punching and kicking a Flagler county school employee unconscious over a Nintendo Switch last week will face charges as an adult. Brendan Depa will be transferred to adult court, where he faces an aggravated battery charge after the attack last week at Matanzas High. He is being held on $1 million bail, according to the Flagler County Jail. WKMG. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student loan debt: The Supreme Court is set to hear challenges to President Joe Biden’s attempt to cancel student loan debt. NPR.

Opinions on schools: The ways college faculty think and feel about transfer students can hinder their success and contribute to education inequity. More generally, what professors and administrators think about students transferring between their colleges can provide a window into how faculty shape higher education in the U.S. Dr. Alexandra Logue, The 74th.