New rules on bathrooms, books: Florida’s Board of Education approved new rules Wednesday that require all 28 schools in the state university system and state K-12 private schools to update their policies on bathrooms and locker rooms to say that students and employees must use facilities matching their “biological sex at birth,” or the schools must make unisex facilities available. Those who do not comply with the provisions of the rules, including transgender professors and college employees, can be warned or reprimanded for a first violation and must be fired for a second offense, the rule stipulates. The board also approved rules that allow people who object to local school library materials to ask for a state magistrate to intercede if they aren’t happy with the way the schools or districts resolved their complaints. Tallahassee Democrat. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Politics. Florida Phoenix. Higher Ed Dive.
Around the state: Contract negotiations are at an impasse between Orange County teachers and the district over compensation, Flagler’s school superintendent apologizes for an elementary school calling black students into a meeting to warn them that their test scores were too low and to stop clowning around or they could miss out on college and end up shot or dead, the Florida Department of Education is investigating Duval schools’ use of training materials on restorative justice practices, a Pasco high school football team has been cleared to resume activities after an investigation of a fight between two players, and a Lee County mother is pleading with the school district to move her child’s bus stop, which is in front of a home where a registered sex offender lives. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
South Florida: Even though schools have just opened in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, district officials are already working to prepare students for the first round of Florida Assessment of Student Thinking testing. The tests are given three times throughout the school year, with results returned in time to focus on areas where students need help. “It’s all about making sure we eliminate opportunity gaps for our students,” said Miami-Dade Superintendent Jose Dotres. “And so interventions, tutorials, doing them right, material that is aligned material and instruction that’s creating an impact on learning is more important than ever.” WFOR.
Orange: Contract negotiations between the Orange school district and the teachers union have hit an impasse over the proposed compensation plan. District officials say they offered teachers “historic” pay raises of up to $5,350 a year. But union officials say the raises are tied to changes in health insurance plans that would raise costs for teachers, and also contend the district still isn’t doing enough to reward veteran teachers. The union wants raises ranging from 3 percent to 11 percent, with more experienced teachers getting bigger increases. An impasse was declared by the district, which means a special magistrate will hear both sides and make a recommendation for a final agreement. If no deal can be reached between the union and district after that recommendation is made, the school board will decide. Orlando Sentinel.
Duval: The Florida Department of Education is investigating the school district’s use of training materials it uses from the International Institute for Restorative Practices, a nonprofit with ties to George Soros, a billionaire philanthropist who supports liberal and progressive causes. The materials promote the practice of “restorative” justice, which tries to get behind the root cause of minor school crimes as a way for the offender to take responsibility and repair the harm instead of being placed into the criminal justice system. Florida Standard.
Lee: A mother is pleading with district officials to move her child’s bus stop in Fort Myers because it’s in front of a home occupied by a registered sex offender. School officials said in a statement, “We are not required to move bus stops for sexual offenders. The number of sexual offenders in this neighborhood does not allow us to move this stop to a location more than 1,000 feet from one of their homes. We are only required to move stops for violent sexual predators, and there are only three of those in Lee County. As a reminder, parents are responsible for the safety of their children until they board the bus in the morning and once they get off the bus in the afternoon.” WINK.
Pasco: After an investigation determined no hazing was involved in a fight between two Land O’Lakes High School football players earlier this week, district officials said the program’s suspension has been lifted. “We are also taking proactive steps to resume football operations at Land O’ Lakes High School safely and responsibly in time for the varsity game on Friday,” said district spokesman Corey Dierdorff. Tonight’s junior varsity game will not be played, but could be rescheduled, he said. Tampa Bay Times. WTVT. WTSP.
Brevard: A preschool teacher at the private Pineapple Cove Academy in Palm Bay has been arrested and accused of abusing a 16-month-old child. Police said Sherena Budhu, 56, is charged with aggravated child abuse. Florida Today. WKMG. WFTV.
Escambia: The state has filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Escambia school board’s request that a lawsuit filed against it be dismissed. Five authors, the publishing company Penguin Random House, parents of students and the free-speech group PEN America contend in the suit that the board violated First Amendment and equal-protection rights when it removed or restricted library books and disproportionately targeted books about racial minorities and LGBTQ people. The board asked the court on Monday to dismiss the case, arguing that those bringing the suit “have no constitutional right to inculcate Florida’s schoolchildren with their preferred ideas through Florida’s school libraries.” News Service of Florida.
Bay: More than 20 district students have been arrested after the first 10 days of school, and Superintendent Mark McQueen is recommending that two of them be expelled. He said one is a high school student who was allegedly dealing drugs on campus, and the other was a middle school student who is accused of threatening to shoot up a school. “It’s just young people making bad decisions that are going to have life-long consequences,” McQueen said. “Parents of other children expect to be able to send their children to a school that’s going to be drug-free and threat-free. I respect that, I honor that, and certainly, I uphold those expectations.” Panama City News Herald.
Flagler: Interim superintendent LaShakia Moore issued an apology Wednesday for Bunnell Elementary School staff members who called black 4th- and 5th-graders into an assembly last week to warn them that their test scores were too low, and to stop clowning around or they could miss out on college and end up shot or dead. The incident enraged many parents, and Moore said, “Though no malice was intended at this assembly, it was executed in a way that does not align with the values of Flagler County Schools, the Flagler County School Board or this community. Students should never be separated by race.” Daytona Beach News-Journal. Flagler Live. WMFE. School board members meet today at a “retreat” to interview Moore to decide if they should end the search for Cathy Mittelstadt’s replacement as superintendent and simply appoint Moore to the position next month. Flagler Live.
Colleges and universities: Housing assignments for upperclassmen at New College of Florida were changed again Tuesday night. Those students, who were being moved because mold is being removed from their dorms, had been headed to the four-star Hyatt Regency, 4 miles from campus on the bayfront in downtown Sarasota. Tuesday, they were notified that they have now been moved to the Hyatt Place hotel located less than a mile east of the campus. Classes begin Aug. 28. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Authorities are searching a lake on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University in Lee County for a student who fell overboard from a private boat Wednesday night. Thirteen people were on the boat on Lake Como at the time, said Jim Slapp, the university’s police chief. Fort Myers News-Press. WBBH. WFTX.
Around the nation: A new generation of activists is on the front line of the school choice movement. “It’s exciting to know not only that a generation of kids that don’t have hangups of older folks and who have had the chance to experience a world where school choice is increasingly becoming the norm are taking the reins now and fighting for themselves and their peers,” said Derrell Bradford, an education choice pioneer. reimaginED.
Opinions on schools: Dear Moms for Liberty: Your want the liberty to restrict school library reading materials, liberty to restrict which historical facts are taught, liberty to restrict kids’ personal choices regarding who they feel and think they are while in school, and now the liberty to restrict their access to health care and mental health care while there. The “liberty to restrict” sounds a bit paradoxical, eh? Bruce Diamond, Fort Myers News-Press. The success of today’s college students can be seen by looking at more than dreams and aspirations, but the goals that they set for themselves. The failure to persist in college is partially due to a lack of goal-setting habits. Reed Markham, Daytona Beach News-Journal.