Parental rights ‘pronoun’ and DEI bills approved, state accepts new AP math test, Collier picks a superintendent, and more

‘Pronoun’ bill approved: The expansion of the 2022 Parental Rights in Education law was approved by the Senate on Wednesday. Among other things, this year’s bill will restrict how teachers and students can use their pronouns in schools, widen the ban on school lessons about sexual identity and gender orientation, and require schools to remove challenged books from libraries and classrooms within five days of someone challenging them. It’s now headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Associated Press. WFSU.

DEI bill heads to governor: Members of the Florida House voted Wednesday for a bill that prevents colleges and universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion programs, calls for a review of courses and majors offered across the state, and blocks schools from requiring “political loyalty tests” in hiring or admissions. The Senate approved the measure last week and it’s now headed to Gov. DeSantis, who had asked the Legislature to craft the bill. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Associated Press. WFSU.

Also in the Legislature: TikTok and other foreign-owned social media apps would be banned from use on school and other government electronic devices and networks under a bill approved Wednesday in the Senate. The bill is now headed to the desk of Gov. DeSantis, who is expected to sign it. Florida Politics. WEAR. People in schools and other public places will be required to use bathrooms that conform with their gender identity at birth under a bill passed Wednesday by members of the House. Politico Florida. Florida Politics. A bill that would create a four-year pilot program for year-round schools won the unanimous approval of the Senate on Wednesday. Florida Senate. A proposal requiring public school districts to share local tax revenues with charter schools is ready for a Senate vote. The House has already approved it. Florida Politics. Cameras could be mounted on school buses to catch drivers who pass them illegally under a bill approved by the House. News Service of Florida. Members of the human rights group Dream Defenders staged a sit-in at Gov. DeSantis’ office Wednesday to protest policies that “attack who they are, who they love and how and what they learn.” Fourteen were arrested. Tallahassee Democrat. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Associated Press.

Around the state: Florida Department of Education officials have approved a precalculus Advanced Placement course for high school students, Collier County School Board members select interim leader Leslie Ricciardelli to be the next superintendent, Duval’s school board meeting May 16 to discuss short-term and long-term replacements for the retiring superintendent, Sarasota’s school board approves a 15-year renewal for the Sarasota Suncoast Academy charter school, and New College of Florida has fired its associate dean of academic engagement and information librarian, the second LGBTQ+ employee to be dismissed since the conservative takeover of the college began. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Duval: School board members will meet May 16 to discuss who will replace the retiring Superintendent Diana Greene both short-term and long-term. Greene will exit the district June 2, and her official retirement date is July 24. Board chair Kelly Coker said after an interim superintendent is appointed, “We will then have conversations with students, parents, teachers, school leaders, and community members to hear their voices regarding the qualities our next superintendent must bring to refocus the district on academic achievement, ensure our schools are safe, and build programs that ready all of our students for their future.” WJXT. A look back at Greene’s five-year tenure as the leader of the Duval school district. WJXT.

Pasco: Two assistant football coaches at Sunlake High School have been fired after they got into a fight Monday in front of the team, and the head coach was placed on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated. No students were involved, deputies said, whose report did not include the names of the coaches. WFLA.

Polk: A Lake Wales High School teacher and her three children were shot to death Tuesday by a man who was killed Wednesday in a shootout with police, according to department officials. Dead are Marlene Pizarro, her 17-year-old daughter Ariana Pizarro, who was a senior at the school, and two other children whose names could not be confirmed. Police said the gunman, Al Joseph Stenson, was the boyfriend of one of the women. Lakeland Ledger.

Brevard: A physical education teacher at Johnson Middle School in Melbourne is on leave and under investigation by school officials and law enforcement for allegedly “allowing students to fight on campus,” according to principal Marina Saporito-Middleton. The unnamed teacher was placed on leave and is not allowed on campus. Florida Today. WKMG. WESH.

Seminole: Three Lake Mary High School students were arrested Wednesday and accused of attacking a classmate during the lunch period. Deputies said a 14-year-old boy took some food from another boy, and punched him when confronted about it. Two 16-year-olds then joined the 14-year-old in beating the victim, breaking his nose. Deputies arrested the three suspects at a nearby store, and all have been charged with aggravated battery. WKMG. WOFL. WFTV. WESH.

Collier: Leslie Ricciardelli, the interim superintendent of the school district since December, was selected in a 3-2 vote by the school board Wednesday to assume the permanent job. Board members Kelly Lichter, Stephanie Lucarelli and Erick Carter supported Ricciardelli, while Tim Moshier and Jerry Rutherford backed the other finalist, former Clay County Superintendent Charlie Van Zant Jr. Rutherford said, “I would like to combine the two of them but we can’t. I can work with anyone that will work with me.” Board members meet May 9 to discuss a contract. Naples Daily News. WBBH.

Sarasota: School board members approved a 15-year renewal for the Sarasota Suncoast Academy charter school. The 800-student school has received an A grade from the state in every year except 2014 and 2016. Principal Steven Crump said he applied for the renewal a year early because the school is considering adding a building to replace portable classrooms. Interim superintendent Allison Foster also announced at the meeting that the non-exceptional student education pre-kindergarten program will continue even though federal funding will disappear in 2024. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Marion: The business manager for an alternative school in Ocala has been arrested and accused of stealing $766,000 from the school since 2016. Danielle Jane Liles had been working since 2002 at the Silver River Mentoring & Instruction school for at-risk students from Marion and Citrus counties. She told detectives that she stole the money because she was addicted to it. Ocala Star-Banner. WESH.

Colleges and universities: New College of Florida has fired its associate dean of academic engagement and information librarian, the second LGBTQ+ employee to be dismissed since the conservative takeover of the college began. Helene Gold, who had been at the school for five years, was fired without notice. “Who fires a librarian three weeks before the end of the spring semester, when our students are finishing their final research projects and theses?” she asked. College officials did not comment. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Heather Bigard was sworn in this week as the first woman to be named president of Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg. Daily Commercial. The graduate-level University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences will relocate to the former St. Augustine Record office. Construction is expected to be completed by December 2024. Jacksonville Daily Record. Florida State University has announced it will combine its College of Education and College of Health and Human Sciences, starting July 1. WTXL. All three finalists for the presidency of South Florida State College in Avon Park have withdrawn their applications for “personal reasons.” Trustees amended the hiring criteria so that a doctorate or other terminal degree is now preferred, but not required, and are reopening the search. WFLA.

History and civics tests results: Lower test scores by U.S. 8th-graders on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests for history and civics were not unexpected, but still trouble education experts. Possible reasons for the declines range from the pandemic to restrictions  on what can be taught about history to data showing fewer students taking classes focused on U.S. history. Whatever the reasons, the results are “concerning,” said National Center for Education Statistics commissioner Peggy Carr. Too many students, she said, “are struggling to understand and explain the impact of civic participation and how our government works and the historical significance of the events.” Chalkbeat. K-12 Dive. The 74.

New AP math test approved: A new precalculus Advanced Placement test from the College Board can be given to Florida public high school students during the 2023-2024 school year, the Florida Department of Education said Wednesday. “We appreciate College Board submitting a course that is aligned with Florida’s state academic standards and that is age and developmentally appropriate,” Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. wrote in a letter to the College Board. In January, the state rejected the College Board’s African American studies AP course, saying it “lacked educational value,” and Gov. DeSantis subsequently questioned the value of the College Board’s programs and urged the Legislature to create Florida-based alternatives. Orlando Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: We can tackle the twin problems of literacy and civics by acknowledging they are tightly intertwined, shifting instruction to reflect that reality, and providing all students with the intellectual stimulation they crave and the learning opportunities they so desperately need. Susan Pimentel, Education Week.

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BY NextSteps staff