School bathroom rules proposed for colleges and private schools, higher teacher pay, proclamations ended by Polk school board, and more

School bathroom rules: New rules governing the use of bathrooms for college and private school students are being considered at today’s meeting of the Florida Board of Education. The rules have been written for H.B. 1521, which was passed in May by the Legislature, signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis and requires that “females and males should be provided restrooms and changing facilities for their exclusive use, respective to their sex, in order to maintain public safety, decency, decorum, and privacy” in public buildings, institutions and schools. The proposed rule grants exceptions for unisex bathrooms or changing facilities, but also imposes punishments for employees who violate the law. News Service of Florida. Florida Phoenix.

Around the state: Teachers in Seminole County reach a contract agreement with the district while Duval teachers are starting to receive supplements approved by voters last year, the Polk County School Board votes to end the longstanding practice of issuing proclamations recognizing cultural groups and issues, a Pasco high school football team suspends activities after a fight while a Brevard team resumes practices after they were put on pause because of a hazing incident, a report concludes that Florida’s Catholic schools are growing even as many in other states are declining, and New College students helping during orientation were ordered by school officials to remove Black Lives Matter and Pride pins from their shirts, pants and bags. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: Two people were arrested and accused of taking guns into schools within the past week. Monday was the first day of classes. Friday, 24-year-old Thomas Richardson was arrested after police said he had a gun in a bag at an open house for West Hollywood Elementary School. Monday, police said they found a gun in the backpack of a 15-year-old Coconut Creek High School student after receiving a tip from another student who was reportedly shown the gun. Sun-Sentinel. WPLG. WSVN. WFOR.

Hillsborough: A custodian at the IDEA Victory Public School in Tampa was arrested Monday and is accused of possessing child pornography. Sheriff’s deputies said Mark Jordan, 44, admitted creating and possessing computer-generated child pornography images. They don’t believe any children at the school are victims. WTSP. WTVT.

Duval: Teachers are starting to receive the supplemental pay from an additional 1-mill levy voters approved in 2022. The supplements, which range from $5,400 to $7,000, will be added in increments to teachers’ paychecks. There is no change to teachers’ base pay. About $89 million a year is expected to be generated by the tax, with $58 million going to teacher pay, $20 million for supplemental pay for paraprofessionals and support staff, and $11 million to enhance funding for arts and athletics. WJXT. Just four people attended the first of six public forums being held by the school district to get the community’s input on what it wants the next superintendent’s priorities to be. Another 20 joined in online. Jacksonville Today. WTLV.

Polk: School board members voted Tuesday to stop issuing proclamations recognizing cultural groups and issues. The vote was 5-2 to end the longstanding tradition. Some speakers at Tuesday’s meeting said the board was spending too much time on proclamations and not enough on focusing on strengthening academics and improving test scores. WFLA. WFTS. The teachers union pushed the school board Tuesday to set a timeline for making repairs to school air-conditioning units and to raise the pay for HVAC technicians as a way to address worker shortages. About 700 work orders have yet to be closed. WTSP. More than 60 percent of the district’s 6th- and 7th-graders failed the state’s math assessment tests last May and scored far below the state average, but Superintendent Frederick Heid said the district is taking steps to make improvements. Among them are making individualized programs for those who are struggling, regular monitoring, and daily small group interventions and assistance from highly qualified math teachers or trained tutors. Lakeland Now.

Lee: An inspection of Cape Coral charter schools has found assumed asbestos-containing materials in every school building But officials from Cape Coral, which owns and operates the schools, said most of those asbestos-containing materials are not considered a health risk, and operations at the schools won’t be interrupted. WINK. WFTX. WBBH.

Pasco: The football program at Land O’Lakes High School has been suspended indefinitely after a fight between two players while other players encouraged them and used their phone cameras to record it. All practices and games have been canceled, according to district officials. Land O’Lakes’ junior varsity team was supposed to play at River Ridge on Thursday, followed by the varsity game Friday. Tampa Bay Times. WFTS.

Brevard: Viera High School football practice resumes today, just days after activities had been suspended because of a hazing incident that was recorded and posted to social media showing some players simulating sex acts with a player. No decision was announced about when the team might resume its season schedule. It forfeited Friday’s game at South Fork High School in Stuart. A parent-team meeting was held Monday and players have received anti-hazing training, said Superintendent Mark Rendell, who called it the first step in getting the team back on the field. The mother of the boy hazed called the course a “band-aid” and said her son would not return to the team. Florida Today.

Seminole, central Florida: A tentative contract agreement has been reached between the teachers union and Seminole County School District officials, both groups announced Tuesday. Teachers who receive an evaluation of highly effective will get $2,110.76 raises, while teachers rated effective will receive $1,230.67 and teachers being “grandfathered” will get $1,648.90. All teachers at Title I schools will receive a $100 supplement, and eligible teachers will receive a one-time retention bonus for the 2023-2024 school year that is based on work experience with the district. The agreement must still be ratified by union workers and approved by the school board. Spectrum News 13. In the past two years, 73 books have been removed from central Florida school districts. Another 34 were restricted to higher grade levels or required permission from a parent to check out. Lake County schools removed 22 books, Osceola 21, Flagler 12, Orange and Marion 7 each, Brevard 3 and Volusia 1. WOFL.

Manatee: District officials have submitted a list of 43 books restricted or banned from school libraries to the state as required by law. All were library books challenged by parents or members of the community, and all were marked “inappropriate for grade level and age group.” Among then are Push, the inspiration for the Academy Award-winning movie Precious, the book that was turned into the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which was also turned into a movie. Bradenton Herald.

St. Lucie: A former Fort Pierce Westwood Academy high school teacher has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading no contest Aug. 10 to solicitation of a student by an authority figure and transmission of material harmful to a minor using electronic equipment. Christopher Ward Hixon, 45, will also serve serve nine years of sex offender probation, and surrendered his teaching license. TCPalm.

Bay: School board members approved a revised budget Tuesday that cuts spending by about $10 million, from $701 million to $691 million. “We got about $18 million in additional funding. The majority is from an increase in students, but we did get an increase this year in operating dollars,” said Jim Loyed, the district’s chief financial officer. A board vote on the final budget is scheduled Sept. 11. WJHG. A Jinks Middle School student and some of her relatives were arrested Friday when they started a fight in the school cafeteria. Deputies said the girl was in the school office with her uncle and grandmother complaining about being a victim of cyberbullying, then ran to the cafeteria and began fighting with the girl she had been arguing with online. Her uncle held the other girl while his niece struck her, deputies said. The girl faces battery charges and her uncle faces battery, child abuse and trespassing charges. The grandmother may be charged with trespassing. WMBB.

Colleges and universities: Seventeen student orientation leaders were ordered by New College of Florida officials to remove Black Lives Matter and Pride pins from their shirts, pants and bags as they worked the past few days to welcome new students to school. One of those leaders, 21-year-old student Xabier Rezola, said he and the others intend to continue wearing the pins. He also said the college conducted a meeting Tuesday on civil discourse and the need to respect other peoples’ beliefs. “We want to provide a welcoming environment for all students and I will not censor myself for someone else’s comfort,” Rezola said. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Four finalists have been chosen for consideration to become the next president of Pasco Hernando State College. They are Gilbert Evans Jr., vice president for legal affairs/general counsel at St. Johns River State College; Eric Hall, secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice; Jesse D. Pisors, vice president at Texas A&M University-San Antonio; and Saul Reyes, vice president for enrollment management and student affairs at the College of Central Florida. All will attend a town hall Sept. 6. Current President Timothy Beard retires in January. Suncoast News.

Catholic school growth: Florida’s Catholic schools are growing even as many in other states are declining, according to a report from Step Up For Students, which helps administer the state’s scholarship programs and hosts this blog. School choice programs are driving the growth. Nearly half of the students in Catholic schools are attending with the help of state scholarships, up from about 16 percent a decade ago. reimaginED.

In the Legislature: Florida teachers would be paid a minimum base salary of $65,000 a year under a bill filed for the 2024 legislative session. H.B. 13 is proposed by state Rep. Tae Edmonds, D-West Palm Beach. The 60-day session opens Jan. 9 and is scheduled to end March 8. News Service of Florida.

Gubernatorial appointments: Kimberly Richey, formerly a U.S. Department of Education assistant secretary for civil rights under former President Donald Trump, has been named the senior chancellor with the Florida Department of Education. She replaces Henry Mack, who was in the job four years before becoming an education consultant for the Southern Group this past summer. Tallahassee Democrat. Three new members of the Florida Museum of Black History Task Force have been appointed by Gov. DeSantis: Brian Butler, president and chief executive officer of JCB Construction Inc.; Berny Jacques, senior partnership director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay and the Florida House Representative for District 59 since 2022; and Altony Lee, interim assistant vice chancellor of public affairs for the Board of Governors. Office of the Governor. DeSantis also appointed eight members to the Florida High School Athletic Association board of directors. Among them are Miami-Dade County School Board member Monica Colucci and Gulf County Superintendent Jim Norton. The appointments must be confirmed by the Senate. Office of the Governor.

Around the nation: Gov. DeSantis’ education platform has been front and center in his presidential campaign. But is his focus on fighting “woke” and the left in schools dragging down his chances? Education Week.

Opinions on schools: The choice-induced death of rural education appears to have been greatly exaggerated. Choice will be rapidly growing in rural areas of many states in the aftermath of the 2023 legislative sessions. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED.