Around the state: New rules placing restrictions on “adult live performances” at field trips, prohibiting school districts from using the social-media app TikTok, and allowing parents to control “any deviation from their child’s legal name” in schools were proposed Tuesday by the Florida Department of Education, a Leon County mother is challenging a book about tennis legend Billie Jean King because it mentions that she’s gay, Hillsborough’s interim superintendent signs a one-year contract and takes over immediately, a Pasco County administrator has been named as the superintendent of a South Carolina school district, two Brevard administrators whose jobs are being eliminated are leaving the district, and attorneys for a Tampa Christian school asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to declare a state agency’s decision to not allow it to broadcast a prayer before a state championship game in 2015 as a violation of the First Amendment. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
Broward: Jurors who will determine whether former school deputy Scot Peterson is guilty of child neglect did not come back with a verdict Tuesday. Deliberations resume at 9 a.m. today. Peterson is accused of taking cover instead of confronting the gunman who murdered 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Sun-Sentinel.
Hillsborough: Longtime district administrator Van Ayres was officially elevated to the role as interim superintendent on Tuesday, with the school board approving a one-year contract that will pay him $310,000. The appointment is effective immediately, and Superintendent Addison Davis said he was ready to move back to northeast Florida instead of waiting until to leave July 14 as scheduled. Board members said they will do a “pulse check” on Ayres after three months to decide if he’s a viable candidate to replace Davis for the permanent position. At the same time, a search for other candidates will begin. Tampa Bay Times. WTSP. WFLA.
Pinellas: School board members tentatively agreed Tuesday to take the necessary steps to join other school districts around the country in a lawsuit against social media companies. The suit contends the use of the companies’ apps is hurting students’ mental health and promoting bullying. WFLA. WTVT.
Pasco: Kim Moore, the district’s assistant superintendent for career and innovative programs, has been chosen as the new superintendent for the Richland County School District 2 in suburban Columbia, S.C. Board of trustees for the 28,500-student district voted 6-1 on Tuesday to hire Moore. She’s expected to start the new job next week. Columbia Post and Courier. WOLO. WLTX.
Brevard: Two longtime school district administrators whose jobs are being eliminated in a reorganization plan have decided to step down as of July 31. Stephanie Soliven, assistant superintendent of secondary leading and learning, is resigning from her position, and Jane Cline, assistant superintendent for elementary leading and learning, is retiring. Replacing those two jobs are newly created positions of chief of schools and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. The changes, proposed by Superintendent Mark Rendell, were approved at Tuesday’s school board meeting. Also resigning recently were Danielle McKinnon, the director of diversity and equity who was hired less than three years ago, and assistant to the school board Tammy Aguirre. Florida Today. School district maintenance workers complained to the school board Tuesday that they’ve been overlooked while school bus drivers recently received 33 percent raises. “We have some techs that have been here for more than eight years that aren’t even making $20 an hour,” said one worker. Board members assured the maintenance workers they haven’t been forgotten, but that they simply had to address the driver shortage as soon as possible. WKMG.
Osceola: Newly named superintendent Mark Shanoff said the first thing he plans to do is hold a series of 10 town hall meetings in August at district high schools to hear what the community wants in its school system. Other priorities include closing the achievement gap between groups of students, hiring and retaining teachers and catching up from pandemic-related learning losses. WESH.
Manatee, Sarasota: An aviation maintenance technician school is being built at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, and could begin taking students in two years. The project is a collaboration between the Manatee and Sarasota school districts, Manatee and Suncoast Technical Colleges, and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. It plans to graduate between 45 and 50 students a year, said Manatee Superintendent Cynthia Saunders. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Manatee County School Board members voted 4-1 on Tuesday not to join other districts in suing social media companies for the effects their products have on students. WFLA.
Leon: A Tallahassee mother has filed a complaint against the children’s book I Am Billie Jean King, saying the book “discusses sexual orientation, a topic that is prohibited by Florida law, is inappropriate for this age group and ultimately infringes on our rights as parents,” and has harmed her 2nd-grade daughter. The book about the tennis legend includes the following passage: “Around this time, I realized I was gay. Being gay means that if you’re a girl, you love and have romantic feelings for other girls — and if you’re a boy, you love and have romantic feelings for other boys.” Shane Syfrett, assistant superintendent of academic services for the district, defended the book, saying removing it would “limit all students and families from accessing this material freely when it may only be objectionable to some families.” D.J. Wright, a retired principal who was picked by the district as a third-party official to listen to the arguments and make a recommendation to the school board, has 14 work days to do so. Tallahassee Democrat. School board members have approved spending $30,000 on artificial intelligence technology that can be placed in existing security cameras and detect guns. Leon, Lincoln, Chiles, Godby and Rickards high schools will all receive the technology this fall as part of a pilot program. WCTV.
Citrus: School board members have approved the creation of a supervisor of district threat management position. It will “oversee and manage all matters related to individual student behavioral threat management, related services, and the district threat management team, conduct fact-finding research and recommend appropriate actions to improve school safety, facilitate daily operations of school-based threat management teams, and train district personnel regarding topics to include behavioral threat assessments, suicide risk assessments, youth mental health and the statewide threat management mode.” It’s meant to be a civilian position, but sworn law enforcement officers will be considered. The job will pay $99,800 a year, including benefits. Citrus County Chronicle.
New DOE education rules: New rules placing restrictions on “adult live performances” at field trips, prohibiting school districts from using the social-media app TikTok, and allowing parents to control “any deviation from their child’s legal name” in schools were proposed Tuesday by the Florida Department of Education. The rules are intended to provide school districts with guidance for complying with new state laws. A hearing to discuss the proposed rules is scheduled July 19 in Orlando. News Service of Florida.
Education in the courts: Attorneys for a Tampa Christian school asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday to declare a state agency’s decision to not allow it to broadcast a prayer before a state championship game in 2015 as a violation of the First Amendment. In response, the Florida High School Athletic Association said the issue may be moot since a subsequently passed state law allows such prayers. But Cambridge Christian School argued that the legal question is still relevant until the FHSAA adopts a new policy conforming with state law that permits teams two minutes to make pregame announcements, which can include prayers. Courthouse News Service.
Speir challenges incumbent: Bradenton private school founder Eddie Speir has announced he will challenge U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in the 2024 Republican primary for the 16th Congressional District seat. Buchanan has held the seat since 2007. Speir was nominated by Gov. Ron DeSantis for a seat on the New College of Florida trustees in January, but not confirmed by the Florida Senate. Florida Politics. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
150K scholarships approved: Step Up For Students, a nonprofit organization that helps the state administer K-12 scholarships and hosts this blog, has approved 150,000 applications for the new Family Empowerment Scholarship voucher program, according to president Doug Tuthill. WFTV.
Around the nation: The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week to decline reviewing a case involving a North Carolina charter school means that those schools will continue to be considered public schools, for now. The school was sued after it issued a dress code rule that girls had to wear skirts, but argued that charter schools, which receive government money but are privately managed, are essentially private and therefore not subject to the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. An appeals court ruled against the school, and the U.S. Supreme Court let that decision stand. reimaginED. The 74.
Opinions on schools: The most obvious lesson in the Broward school board’s clear backpack blunder is that board members should never impose a districtwide policy without first listening intently to those who would be most affected by it — students and parents. Sun-Sentinel. The real culture war is not about wokeness but about fear and secrecy and control. It does not have cardboard cutouts being moved around a media chessboard for evening entertainment. The culture war is not symbolic. It is real people and their livelihoods, in institutions that are far easier to strip than they are to rebuild. Tressie McMillan Cottom, New York Times. How is it that Sarasota school board chair Bridget Ziegler is considered “one of the leading conservative voices on education in Florida and nationally?” She had no background in education before being appointed to the school board in 2014, but she did sell Gucci and insurance, if that counts. Chris Anderson, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.