Tenure review every five years approved by BOG, union restrictions, bathroom use and more

Tenure review changes: Tenured university faculty members will have to undergo comprehensive reviews of their productivity every five years, the state university system’s Board of Governors decided on Wednesday. The change, which was roundly criticized by professors as a move that would lower morale and drive away faculty, would take into consideration “the level of accomplishment and productivity relative to the faculty member’s assigned duties” in areas such as research and teaching, “substantiated” student complaints, and a “faculty member’s non-compliance with state law, Board of Governors’ regulations, and university regulations and policies.” Board members say the rule is meant to create uniformity among schools in the review process. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Florida Phoenix. Tallahassee Democrat.

Union restrictions: Senators voted 23-17 Wednesday to approve a bill placing new restrictions on unions representing teachers and other public employees but not police officers, prison guards and firefighters. Among the provisions of the bill are one preventing dues from being deducted from workers’ paychecks and a requirement that unions maintain 60 percent membership among all eligible employees to retain certification as bargaining agents. Critics say the bill is intended to “break the backs of unions,” but bill sponsor Blaise Ingoglia, a Reublican senator from Spring Hill, said, “There is absolutely nothing, nothing in this bill that negatively impacts an employee’s ability to join, maintain membership in, pay for or participate in their union.” News Service of Florida. USA Today Florida Network. Florida Politics.

Also in the Legislature: A bill requiring schools to provide restrooms for “exclusive use” by males and females will be considered today by the Senate Rules Committee. A female is defined in the bill as “a person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing eggs,” while a male is defined as “a person belonging, at birth, to the biological sex which has the specific reproductive role of producing sperm.” News Service of Florida. If a bill giving Gov. Ron DeSantis authority to appoint every member of the Florida High School Athetics Association is passed in the Legislature, Florida would join Delaware as the only states with similar executive authority over its primary prep athletics association. The Senate version of the bill will be reviewed today by the Senate Rules Committee. Tampa Bay Times.

Around the state: Leon school board members approve a revised sex education curriculum, an ambition rezoning plan to ease overcrowding in Palm Beach County and fill a new high school was approved by the school board, Brevard school board members say their decision to suspend the interim superintendent was based on the full contents of an e-mail he wrote to them and allegations that he created a hostile work environment, a consulting firm whose founder was a leader at Hillsdale College could land two contracts with the Sarasota County School District at next week’s school board meeting, and a special magistrate sides with teachers in a contract dispute with the Hillsborough school district. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Hillsborough: A state special magistrate asked to intervene in a contract dispute between the district and its teachers is recommending that teachers be given repeating supplements up to $3,000 if they have advanced degrees, and instructional aides who serve as substitute teachers should be paid a $10-per-hour supplement. The recommendation is not binding, but can be used by both sides as a guide to an agreement. Tampa Bay Times. WFTS.

Orange: The day after a “drag & donuts” show at Boone High School was canceled when state officials called it inappropriate and threatened to investigate school staff who participated, about 80 students in the school’s LGBTQ club attended the Queer and Ally Alliance meeting at the school. Club members were surprised by donuts and flowers sent to the school office, and its social media site was peppered with messages of support. Orlando Sentinel.

Palm Beach: A rezoning plan that will send some students from Palm Beach Central High School, John I. Leonard High, Santaluces Community High and Park Vista Community High School to the new Dr. Joaquin García High School in Lake Worth Beach to reduce overcrowding was approved Wednesday by school board members. Students who will be juniors in the fall can stay at their current school, along with incoming seniors and their siblings. WPTV. Concern that the new universal school choice law will convince public school students to switch to private schools, district officials have begun a marketing campaign aimed at the class of 2036. “Competition is not entirely new to us but now it’s more important than ever,” said Superintendent Michael Burke. “Investing in some marketing is a worthwhile endeavor. If we get students to join us for kindergarten, hopefully they’ll stay with us their whole academic career, K-12.” Sun-Sentinel.

Duval: School officials said this week they rejected 34 curriculum books from publishers because, “upon review, we determined they would not comply with new legislation or were not appropriate for elementary aged children.” Among the books rejected were many in the Essential Voices collection, which the publisher described as a “diverse, inclusive” set of books with the goal that “students will see themselves in what they read, developing an understanding and appreciation of themselves as well as others around them.” Jacksonville Today. Ten months after the district and the city of Jacksonville partnered to hire a company to do active shooter training and evaluate school safety, the district still has not moved forward with the contract even though the city has already paid for it. District officials said they found the company’s “services to be similar to training and assessments we already have in place.” WJXT.

Polk: Tuesday’s arrest of a student for having a gun at Haines City High School is the sixth arrest for gun possession this school year. That matches the total number of arrests for weapons during the 2021-2022 school year. Lakeland Ledger.

Brevard: School board members said that their decision to suspend interim superintendent Robert Schiller was prompted after the full e-mail he wrote criticizing the board was made public and because of allegations that he created a hostile work environment. “There have been several of our employees that have come forward making complaints about a hostile work environment directly at the hands of the superintendent,” said board member Megan Wright. In the e-mail, Schiller ripped the board for how it was proceeding with the search for a superintendent, its immaturity, its lack of prepartion for meetings. But it also included criticisms of school staff, the consultants running the search and another candidate for the interim slot in December that went to Schiller.  Florida Today. WKMG. WFTV. WESH.

Sarasota: A consulting firm whose founder was a leader at Hillsdale College could land two contracts with the school district at next week’s school board meeting. Under a general consulting contract, Vermilion Education would examine proposed policies, programs, curriculum, and help interview external candidates for district jobs. It would also conduct a “District Improvement Study” that would include a review of the district’s textbooks, library books, lesson plans, assignments, professional development, contract agreements, strategic plan, discipline policies, transparency and parental access policies. Costs of the contracts were not divulged. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Charlotte Sun.

Clay: Four students were taken into custody Wednesday after a loaded handgun was found on the Oakleaf High School campus in Orange Park. Officers found the gun after being tipped by students. WTLV. WJXT.

Leon: A revised sex education curriculum won the approval of school board members this week. Superintendent Rocky Hanna said the changes constituted a “a surgical approach. I promise you it was not all dumped in the trash. We went through it very carefully and thoughtfully.” Edited or gone is some of the content for middle school girls that the local chapter of the Moms for Liberty said was age-inappropriate, “dehumanizing,” and promoted promiscuity among girls. Sharyn Kerwin, chapter leader, said the group also has concerns about the high school content but will address those during the 2023-2024 school year. Tallahassee Democrat. Tallahassee Reports. WCTV.

Alachua: Parents of students at Newberry Elementary School want their school to be included in the “spot rezoning” plan being considered by school board members. Enrollment at the school is about 140 percent over capacity. Board members will review all requests and zoning proposals next week. WCJB. Former superintendent Carlee Simon is one of three finalists being considered for the superintendent’s job at the Juneau, Alaska, school system. WCJB.

Flagler: School board members voted 5-0 this week to deny a grievance filed by Wadsworth Elementary School principal Paul Peacock. He was asking for $7,500 for acting as a negotiator and chief negotiator with the district’s teacher and service employee unions. He was removed from those duties in June 2022, but contended his service extended over a calendar year. The board denied the grievance because its contracts follow fiscal years. Flagler Live. The Matanzas High School teacher’s aide who was severely beaten at the school Feb. 21 by a 6-6, 270-pound special needs student said she has not watched the video and doesn’t plan to. “No, no. I’ve been asked by my doctors to not see it,” Joan Naydich said, “just due to how gory it probably is.” Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Hendry: School officials are asking the community for ideas on how to redesign the district logo. An online survey is asking county residents what colors, imagery and words best represent the county. The survey will be available through April 3. WBBH.

Jackson: A $5 million renovation project for the Hope School in Marianna has been approved by the school board. WMBB.

Colleges and universities: Pamela Soltis, a curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History and a distinguished professor at the University of Florida, has been named the 2023 Southeastern Conference professor of the year. She’s the first UF professor to win the award. Mainstreet Daily News. Daytona State College is partnering with Sarasota-based truck driving school FleetForce to offer the program to its students starting Aril 10. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Developer Deveron Gibbons, a longtime St. Petersburg College trustee, was appointed by the Board of Governors on Wednesday as a trustee for Florida A&M University. Tampa Bay Times. Alan Gonzalez of Miami, an executive at Florida Power & Light, has been appointed by Gov. DeSantis as a trustee for Florida International University. Florida Politics.

Around the nation: Legislators around the country are starting to turn back to zero-tolerance discipline policies amid rising fears about school violence. “School violence is on the rise across the state,” said Isau Metes, advocacy director at Nebraska’s teachers union. Critics say new, stricter policies will punish students still recovering from the pandemic and adversely affect students of color and those with disabilities. Chalkbeat. Eighteen people have been killed and 56 other wounded in shootings of all kinds in schools this year, according to representatives of the independent K-12 School Shooting Database. NPR.

Opinions on schools: The conservative agenda that Florida Republicans have unleashed will fundamentally alter public education. That’s why it’s critical now when ingesting this fire hose of bad news to step back and consider the big picture: Where is our education system going? What’s driving these changes, who wins, who loses and what’s the impact on our students, education system and communities? Tampa Bay Times. The new universal school choice law should involve more of what state leaders have long said is of the utmost importance when it comes to education and tax dollars: oversight, transparency, accountability. Mark Woods, Florida Times-Union. The essential life lesson that racism and bigotry are morally wrong needs to be served up hot with a warm side of historical context. Selective omission is itself a form of indoctrination and excluding shameful facts as a way of sheltering learners from distasteful truths is as harmful to them as it is to society. Chris Fulton, Tampa Bay Times. Art is considered porn, a Disney movie about civil-rights icon Ruby Bridges is banned, and state Rep. Randy Fine is being considered for the presidency of Florida Atlantic University. In Florida, absurd has become the new normal. Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel.

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BY NextSteps staff