Teachers, faculty suing state over union dues restrictions, New College trustee not confirmed by Senate, and more

Teachers unions sue state: Four unions representing Florida teachers have filed a federal lawsuit against the state over the law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis this week that places new restrictions on some public employee unions but not others. S.B. 56 prohibits those unions from automatically deducting dues from employees’ paychecks, and requires unions to recertify if dues-paying membership falls below 60 percent of the workers eligible to join. The new law affects teachers and other public employee unions, but not those representing police officers, firefighters and prison guards. The Florida Education Association, the United Faculty of Florida, the Alachua County teachers union and the University of Florida faculty union contend the law targets them, is retaliatory and violates First Amendment, equal-protection and contract rights. “In a bid to punish the ‘school unions’ and other public employee unions who have opposed him, Gov. DeSantis pushed for ‘unprecedented’ changes to Florida’s collective bargaining law to harm disfavored unions while exempting those unions representing law enforcement, corrections, and firefighter employees who have supported him,” the lawsuit said. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Florida Phoenix. WFSU. Florida Politics. WJXT. Business Insider.

Around the state: The Florida Senate failed to confirm one of the New College of Florida trustees appointed by Gov. DeSantis, Palm Beach school board members approve a contract to have metal detectors placed in every county high school, Lee school board members vote to rebuild a historic building at an elementary school severely damaged by Hurricane Ian last September, a list of the 34 social studies textbooks rejected by the state has been released, Broward students will have to make up just a few hours of classes after missing two days of school during historic flooding last month, and St. Johns schools are being investigated by the U.S. government over the way the district is enforcing the student dress code. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: Leonardo Mouriño, the principal of Morningside K-8 Academy, has been named the school district’s principal of the year. Elvira Ruiz-Carrillo of North Miami Senior High has been chosend as the district’s assistant principal of the year. WSVN. Miami-Dade County School District.

Broward: Students who missed two days of school during historic flooding last month will have to make up only a few hours, state officials have decided. June 8, the last day of school that had been scheduled as an early-release day, will now be a full day, and even seniors who have already graduated will be asked to return. District officials had requested a waiver that was granted by Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., who said there wasn’t enough time left in the school year to make up all the time lost. Sun-Sentinel. The circuit judge who drew criticism when she presided over the death penalty trial of the Parkland school shooter has resigned from the bench. Elizabeth Scherer, 46, submitted her letter of resignation to Gov. DeSantis on Wednesday, effective June 30. She offered no explanation for her decision or what she plans to do next. Sun-Sentinel. WPLG. WFOR. WTVJ.

Palm Beach: School board members voted unanimously Wednesday to spend up to $2.25 million to put metal detectors in every county high school. John I. Leonard High School, Palm Beach Lakes Community High, Seminole Ridge Community High and Palm Beach Gardens Community High will get the first detectors to test. If all goes well, the rest will be purchased and placed in other district high schools. WPTV. WPEC.

Lee: A plan to rebuild the historic building at Fort Myers Beach Elementary School and partner with the town for the continued operation of the school has been approved by the school board. The cost of Phase 1 of the rebuild is estimated at $10.4 million, which includes restoring the historic building, making site improvements and construction of part of the campus that could house around 80 students this fall. The school was severely damaged by Hurricane Ian last September. Fort Myers News-Press. WFTX.

Brevard: Money from a property tax increase approved by voters last November will be used to raise salaries for teachers and other employees, starting Aug. 31. Eighty percent of the revenue generated by the tax goes for employee compensation, 16 percent for student programs and 4 percent for technology. WKMG. Spectrum News 13. WOFL.

Volusia: A 15-year-old student at Galaxy Middle School in Deltona was arrested Tuesday and accused of having a loaded gun on campus. Another student saw a video of the boy on social media with the gun and alerted authorities. WESH. Daytona Beach News-Journal. WKMG. WFTV.

St. Johns: The school district is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights after it received complaints of alleged retaliation and discrimination based on sex in connection with enforcing the code. As part of the investigation, the Office for Civil Rights is asking students from Swiss Point Middle School and Creekside, Nease, Bartram Trail and St. Augustine high schools to take a survey about enforcement of the code. District officials said they are cooperating with the investigation. WTLV. WJAX.

Escambia: School board members meet Friday in an emergency session to discuss the future of Warrington High School. Board member Paul Fetsko said Charter Schools USA has responded to the board’s proposed contract to take over Warrington, but no agreement has yet been reached. The meeting was called to “discuss options for the students of that district should an agreement not happen,” district officials said in a statement. WEAR. A social studies teacher at West Florida High School in Pensacola was arrested Wednesday and accusing of aggravated assault against a domestic partner. Deputies said Jerrod Wade Novotny pointed a firearm at the woman in the middle of the night on May 4. District officials said Novotny has been suspended during the investigation. Pensacola News Journal. WEAR.

Leon: School Superintendent Rocky Hanna, who has been threatened with punishment from the state for “politically charged” statements he’s made against Gov. DeSantis’ education policies, received more than 300 personal notes of support from members of the community at Tuesday’s school board meeting. “Many times this seat is very lonely, and I feel that I’m by myself,” Hanna said. “Tonight, I don’t feel that way.” Tallahassee Democrat. WCTV.

Alachua: Two Buchholz High School students are among 20 finalists competing for a spot on for a spot on one of two national science teams that will compete internationally in July. William Guan, a junior at Buchholz, is up for one of five spots on the U.S. physics team that will compete in Tokyo. Jimmy Jiang, a freshman, is a candidate for one of four spots on the U.S. chemistry team that will travel to Zurich, Switzerland. Gainesville Sun. Mainstreet Daily News. WCJB.

Citrus: School board members agreed this week to spend $7.2 million on nearly 20,000 new iPads for district students and staff. Models being used in the district are now five years old or older, and many schools don’t have enough to go around. Citrus County Chronicle.

Flagler: Wadsworth Elementary School principal Paul Peacock has been placed on leave as the district investigates complaints about him from several employees. Peacock has been accused of discriminating against a black teacher, spending up to $55,000 on a kitchen in the administrative suite, and ignoring a teacher who complained about having no air-conditioning in her classroom. Flagler Live.

Washington: A former substitute teacher at Chipley High School has been arrested and accused of having a sexual relationship in 2021 with a student who was 17 at the time. Deputies received a complaint about Crystal Nicole Carter, 43, on May 4. Superintendent Joseph Taylor said Carter has not been employed by the district for the past year. WMBB. WJHG.

Colleges and universities: The Florida Senate refused to confirm one of the New College of Florida trustees appointed by Gov. DeSantis. No vote was taken on Eddie Speir’s appointment, leaving his future on the board in doubt. DeSantis has 45 days to reappoint Speir or someone else to the board. Until then, Speir will continue to sit on the board. Speir blamed interim college president Richard Corcoran for not being confirmed. “I am confident it was (Corcoran) working with his political allies to block me. It is easy to see why,” he wrote. “This meddling proved too much, even though most of our political and educational views align.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida Politics. State Rep. Fred Hawkins, R-St. Cloud, is leaving the Florida House to become president of South Florida State College, which has campuses in Highlands, DeSoto and Hardee counties. Florida Politics. WFTV. University athletic coaches will be shielded from liability if they take actions that affect athletes’ ability to earn money under a new regulation approved Wednesday by the Board of Governors. News Service of Florida.

Rejected books: Here are the 34 social studies textbooks Florida recently rejected because they included “ideological rhetoric” such as references to critical race theory, culturally responsive teaching, social justice and social-emotional learning, or for other reasons. Tampa Bay Times.

Student aid deadline: Monday is the deadline for Florida high school seniors to complete the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. Only about 50 percent of students have completed the form so far. WFOR.

Education podcasts: Rachel Hayon Sabbah is a Fort Lauderdale nurse and mother of four daughters, including two who receive the Florida Family Empowerment Scholarship for students with unique abilities. She talks with Step Up For Students senior writer Lisa Buie about how the state’s expanded scholarship eligibility and conversion of all traditional scholarships to education savings accounts will help her home-school one of her daughters next year and get her speech therapy. reimaginED.

Around the nation: Post-pandemic student enrollment is lagging in many states, according to data drawn from 41 states and the 20 largest school districts in the nation. That decline, plus the end of federal COVID funding and expanding school choices, presents the nation’s education system with increasingly difficult questions. The 74. A bipartisan bill has been introduced in Congress that would give charter schools access to public property and make federal grants available to states for charter school facilities. reimaginED.

Opinions on schools: It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. Let’s count all the ways Florida honors its educators. Stephanie Hayes, Tampa Bay Times.

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