Period questions replaced by sex at birth query on form, new rezoning plan, NIL bill passes, and more

Period questions off form: Questions about menstrual cycles will no longer appear on a medical form student-athletes have to fill out to play high school sports, but a question about their sex at birth will be added, Florida High School Athletic Association’s governing board decided Thursday. The athletic association, a nonprofit that oversees high school sports, had been considering a proposal to make questions about menstruation mandatory instead of optional. But public reaction to the suggestion was sharply negative, and executive director Craig Damon recommended the questions be removed. FHSAA directors agreed, voting 14-2 to cut the form to a single page. However, the FHSAA replaced them with a question asking students to reveal their sex assigned at birth. That information would then be kept at students’ schools. Meanwhile a bill was filed Thursday in Congress that would end federal funding for any schools that ask about students’ menstrual history. Palm Beach Post. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Tampa Bay Times. Miami Herald. Politico Florida. Sun-Sentinel. Fort Myers News-Press. WLRN.

House passes NIL bill: Florida House members voted 113-0 on Thursday to replace the law prohibiting colleges and their representatives from helping student-athletes find deals to pay them for commercial use of their names, images and likenesses. The proposed replacement would permit such intervention by schools, their officials and support organizations, a change those officials said will help with recruiting. It now moves to the Senate, where it’s also expected to be approved. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Tampa Bay Times.

Also in the Legislature: The Senate version of a bill that would allow people to carry guns without a permit also would establish a standard process for schools to handle threats, create a portal to report threat data statewide, and expand the program allowing school employees to carry guns on campus. It was filed Thursday by Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Tampa Bay Times. At a meeting Wednesday, the Legislature’s Joint Legislative Budget Commission will consider making $15 million available for a revamped New College of Florida to hire faculty and provide scholarships. Monday, the New College trustees will consider approving a contract for interim president Richard Corcoran. News Service of Florida. A bill transferring control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District from the Disney Corp. to a state-appointed board was approved Thursday in the House. It now heads to the Senate for consideration. Politico Florida. Florida Politics. Officials from the Florida Citizens Alliance are calling on legislators to scale back the “monopoly” of Step Up For Students, a nonprofit that helps administer state K-12 scholarships and hosts this blog, because it believes Step Up makes families wait too long to secure scholarships and is too “woke.” SUFS president Doug Tuthill called the effort an “absurd” political attack. Tampa Bay Times.

Around the state: Hillsborough’s superintendent unveils a new school boundary rezoning plan that he calls more “sensitive,” the College Board refutes Florida’s contention that the AP African American studies course it rejected violates the state law and that parts of it are “historically fictional,” an active-shooter report at Pensacola Catholic High School on Wednesday was false but the trauma it caused was real, and the St. Lucie County School District announces its teacher of the year. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: A Horace Mann Middle School student and two women were arrested Thursday and accused of attacking a school resource officer. The student had been in a fight at the school, and when the officer tried to take the girl into custody about three blocks from the school he was allegedly attacked by the three. He was treated for an injury to his face. WSVN. WTVJ.

Hillsborough: Superintendent Addison Davis announced Thursday that he is recommending a fourth school boundary rezoning proposal. In an e-mail to parents and district staff, Davis said the latest, more “sensitive” plan would require fewer than 15,000 students to switch schools, reduce the number of overcrowded and underenrolled schools, expand Carrollwood Elementary into a K-8 school over three years and save the district $13 million a year. It would also leave the boundaries for Grady Elementary, Coleman Middle and Plant High schools in south Tampa unchanged. School board members will discuss the proposal at Monday’s workshop meeting. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WFTS. WTSP. WTVT.

Osceola, Central Florida: Several school districts said they have not banned any books from school libraries, while Seminole and Flagler have released a list of books that have been removed, have been kept but with restrictions, or are under review. WKMG. Osceola school district officials are asking the public for input in establishing the desired qualifications for a new superintendent. An online survey is available through March 3, and community forums are scheduled Feb. 27 and 28, and March 1 and 2. Superintendent Debra Pace is retiring June 30. WESH.

Marion: A criminal justice teacher at West Port High School in Ocala was arrested Wednesday and accused of engaging in sexual conduct with students. Officers said Bernard Smith, a former member of the Ocala Police Department, made sexual comments to at least four female students, and one said that he would pretend to give them fist bumps and instead hit their breasts. He’s been suspended pending the outcome of an internal district investigation. Ocala Star-Banner. WPEC. WFTV.

St. Lucie: Anna Babcock, a gifted-education teacher at Fairlawn Elementary School, has been named the school district’s teacher of the year. Others honored were Jo Ann Padon, a school media clerk at Fairlawn Elementary, as school-related employee of the year; Fort Pierce Central High School social studies teacher Kim Herring-Nance as minority educator of the year; and Mariposa Elementary music teacher Emily Morgan as outstanding first-year teacher. TCPalm.

Escambia: An active-shooter report at Pensacola Catholic High School on Wednesday was false, but the trauma it caused for students, their parents and school employees was real. The daughter of Gulf Coast Minority Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Brian Wyer was in class, and texted him an active-shooter alert she got on her phone. She followed it with texts saying her “heart is racing” and that “the gun scared me so bad.” Wynn said he felt helpless. “I think the scariest part is that — I thought there was an active shooter in the room,” he said. “I’m very angry (about) the fact that some person called a false alarm like this. The kids are freaking out, the teachers go in emergency mode, the disruption in the school day. I hope this person is caught, whoever did this.” Pensacola News Journal.

Clay: A 14-year-old Middleburg High School student was struck by a vehicle and seriously injured Thursday as he was walking toward his school bus. Troopers said a pickup truck was slowing because the school bus activated its cautionary lights when the boy walked into the road and was struck. Troopers are investigating. WJXT. WJAX. WTLV. WGFL.

Leon: School officials are about to launch an app that can be used to send alerts in middle and high schools after testing it in a pilot program at Chiles High. The app will be monitored by administrators during school hours, and by school security after hours and on weekends. WTXL.

Alachua: School board members agreed this week to raise the tuition for the district’s summer camp, Camp Crystal, and raise the pay for its counselors. The cost for the one-week program goes up from $545 to $600, and from $1,090 to $1,440 for the two-week program. First-year counselors will be paid $400 a week, up from $200, and more experienced counselors could make $450 a week. Mainstreet Daily News. Madelyn Urbine, a sophomore French horn player at Buchholz High School, is one of just six high school students chosen as finalists in the U.S. Navy Band Young Artist solo competition this weekend. WGFL.

Flagler: School board members have said little about Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt’s contract, which ends June 30, despite her requests to consider the matter. At a meeting this week, she told board members, “If you’re not aware, my contract ends June 30, 2023. … So I think what’s important to consider is four months to find the new superintendent: I want to put that out there, if that’s this board’s pleasure. I would also put it out there: I will be more than honored to continue to serve. But I think it’s fair to the organization for you as a board to start having these discussions because change is a ripple effect, and you know how that happens to the organization. So if you can make those changes sooner than later, I would welcome those conversations.” No one responded. Flagler Live.

Gadsden: A 7-year-old 1st-grader at the Robert F. Munroe Day School in Havana has died nearly a week after a car he was in was involved in a crash outside the school. A 6-year-old girl was also critically injured, and remains in the hospital. WCTV.

Colleges and universities: University of South Florida trustees will be asked March 7 to approve a $22 million contract for the design-build phase of a 35,000-seat on-campus football stadium. A trustee finance committee is expected to detail the spending at a meeting Tuesday. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Gulf Coast University has spent $121,000 on its search for a new president, and the process has started over after all three candidates dropped out. Fort Myers News-Press. Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland has hired former state senator Kelli Stargel as a senior adviser for strategic relationships. Stargel was term-limited out of the Legislature and lost a bid for a U.S. congressional seat in November. Lakeland Ledger. News Service of Florida. Florida Politics.

College Board responds: In a letter to the Florida Department of Education on Thursday, College Board officials rebuked the state’s contention that the AP African American studies course it rejected violates the state law and that parts of it are “historically fictional.” They said Florida officials never offered specific examples of the alleged inaccuracies, and added that the state’s objections to the course had nothing to do with revisions subsequently made in the material. Politico Florida. Orlando Sentinel. Tampa Bay Times. Associated Press.

Around the nation: Nearly half of U.S. students began the school year below grade level, and only 1 in 10 has received the kind of intensive tutoring believed to be necessary to catch up, according to a survey by the the National Center for Education Statistics. The 74.

Opinions on schools: Without provisions on equitable private school admission processes, and without assurances that individual education plans will be implemented for special needs families, H.B. 1 cannot truly be a universal choice for all Florida families. Sierra Bush Rester, Sun-Sentinel.

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BY NextSteps staff