Federal agents raid Duval teachers union office, Miami-Dade board rejects LGBTQ+ proclamation, makeup days and more

Around the state: Agents from the FBI and IRS raided the offices of the Duval teachers union on Wednesday, Miami-Dade’s school board declines to declare October as LGBTQ History Month, the number of homeless students in central Florida is up significantly in the past year, Lee schools announced makeup days for Hurricane Idalia while Pinellas officials decline to add makeup days because they say they have enough extra time built into the school year to cover the two days missed, all 67 Florida school districts are now back in session after most closed for Idalia, new data suggests that the Alachua school district’s proposed rezoning plan will move thousands of students to new schools but not fix overcrowding at some schools as much as they’d hoped, and more than 40 teachers have resigned from northwest Florida school districts since classes began last month. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: School board members voted 5-3 early this morning against declaring October as LGBTQ+ History Month. The vote came after a contentious debate that started Wednesday afternoon and continued past midnight. Several board members had expressed concern about the legality of such a resolution, saying it could violate the Parental Rights in Education law restricting discussion of sexual and gender identity in the K-12 education system. WFOR.

Hillsborough: School officials have dropped the online tutoring company Paper over questions about quality and cost. “After evaluating usage rates, return on investment, and student achievement data, we decided not to renew the contract,” said district spokeswoman Tanya Arja. The district had paid the company about $4 million over the past two years to provide virtual tutoring to about 110,000 middle and high school students. Chalkbeat.

Orange, central Florida: The number of central Florida students considered homeless continues to grow, according to district officials. In Orange County, 2,500 students were counted as homeless when school started, up from 1,500 last year. In Osceola, the total has increased 98 percent in the past year, to 1,129. Seminole reports 1,360 students without homes, an increase of 80 percent since the fall of 2022. WFTV. Fifteen voluntary pre-kindergarten classrooms are beginning to use a new financial literacy program to begin teaching preschoolers about money. The program is a collaboration with Junior Achievement, and students will begin by learning how to count money and work a cash register. WESH.

Duval: Agents from the FBI and IRS raided the offices of the Duval teachers union on Wednesday, and were seen leaving with equipment and boxes of materials. At the center of the investigation is a potential misappropriation of funds. Officials of Duval Teachers United could not be reached for comment. School district spokesman Tracy Pierce said, “None of us have any information on what’s happening there,” calling the union “an independent, private organization.” Florida Times-Union. WJXT. WJAX. WTLV. An accused Douglas Anderson School of the Arts teacher sent hundreds of sometimes suggestive text messages to an underage student, according to evidence compiled by the State Attorney’s Office. Former DA teacher Jeffrey Clayton has been accused of inappropriately touching an underage student in March. WJXT. A Westside Middle School 7th-grader was arrested Tuesday and accused of having a loaded handgun in his backpack. Principal David Errico told parents that students and their belongings will be screened until “the near future.” WTLV. Florida Times-Union. WJXT.

Pinellas: Even though district schools were closed for two days last week when Hurricane Idalia roared up the west coast, the district won’t schedule  hurricane makeup days because it has enough instructional time already built into the academic calendar to cover the time lost. And it still has four designated makeup days available if more storms close schools. Tampa Bay Times.

Lee: District officials have made three changes to the academic calendar after losing two instructional days Aug. 29 and 30 when Hurricane Idalia threatened the west coast of the state. Oct. 25 and Dec. 21 are now full school days, and Dec. 22 will be an early dismissal day for students and a full workday for employees. WINK. WBBH.

Brevard: Titusville police are investigating a report that a woman in a parked car fired several shots at a school bus just after students were dropped off Wednesday. No one was injured. WFTV. WKMG. WOFL. WFTV.

Collier: More than 10,330 district students have submitted consent forms required for teachers to call them by a name other than their legal name. The forms are mandated by a Florida Board of Education rule backing the Parental Rights in Education law. The board said the rule strengthens “the rights of parents and safeguard their child’s educational record to ensure the use of the child’s legal name in school.” Naples Daily News.

St. Johns: Beachside High School’s start and end times are being changed because heavy traffic on C.R. 210 is causing students to be late for school, said principal Greg Bergamasco. School will start 15 minutes later, at 9:35 a.m. and end at 4:05 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays, school ends at 3:05 p.m. County commissioners said they plan to improve traffic flow by widening the road in that area, and adding and syncing traffic signals. WTLV.

Escambia, northwest Florida: The already acute shortage of teachers is growing among northwest Florida school districts. More than 40 teachers have resigned since the school year began in August in districts from Escambia to Okaloosa counties. In Santa Rosa County, 18 teachers have left since classes began. Teachers say low pay, increasing disciplinary issues and added responsibilities are among the reasons they are leaving. WEAR.

Alachua: New data suggests that the school district’s proposed rezoning plan will move thousands of students to new schools but not fix overcrowding at some schools as much as they’d hoped. Under the plan, the data show, some schools that had been underenrolled would be filled to more than 100 percent capacity and become less diverse, while the most overcrowded middle school would get even more students. School board members, who are being asked to vote on the plan in two weeks, were not notified before the new data were released. “It is so beyond not okay to not let us know there is new data when board members have repeatedly asked,” board member Sarah Rockwell said Wednesday. “It’s really embarrassing to be contacted by a community member about a mistake in the data when I didn’t even know that information existed. I don’t know how many times I have to ask.” Gainesville Sun.

Martin: A South Fork High School teacher is the second district employee to be reassigned after a search for a vape device involving students, according to district officials. Teacher Elliott Jacobs, who oversees the school’s in-school suspension program, joined principal Timothy Aitken in being reassigned to the district central offices after they took three male students into an office and had them strip to their underwear as part of a search for vaping devices. TCPalm.

Indian River: All 34 books recently challenged as sexually explicit or pornographic have been removed from school district libraries, including nine books that are under review. “Swift action was taken,” Superintendent David Moore said in a memo to school board members. “Understanding and listening to the public concerns regarding the 9/34 titles either addressed without interruption or not read aloud, I have requested the immediate removal from the shelves. The removal will be followed by immediate review and reconsideration.” TCPalm.

Colleges and universities: The University of Florida is rated the top public university in the country by the Wall Street Journal, and 15th among all schools. Florida International University was rated fourth among public schools and Florida State University 35th. Schools were rated on student outcomes, time spent paying off the net cost of a degree, salaries after graduation, the learning environment, career preparation opportunities, student recommendations and diversity. Tampa Bay Times. Florida Politics. Nearly half of 642 faculty members in Florida responding to a survey of more than 4,250 faculty in four states said they intend to look for a job in another state within the next year. They cite recent legislation that restricts tenure, guts diversity programs and targets other long-standing practices in higher education. Tampa Bay Times.

Vote on CLT is Friday: Florida’s Board of Governors is expected to vote Friday to become the first U.S. state university system to approve the Classic Learning Test for college admissions as an alternative to the SAT and ACT tests. The CLT emphasizes classic literature and historical texts. Most of the colleges that accept the CLT in the admissions process are private, liberal arts or faith-based schools. New York Times. The board also will consider a proposal to ask state Attorney General Ashley Moody whether the process to narrow the field of Florida Atlantic University presidential candidates complied with the state’s open meetings law. In July, the board halted the search after Ray Rodrigues, chancellor of the State University System, questioned “anomalies” in the process. Sun-Sentinel.

Ethics Commission appointment: Tina Descovich, a former Brevard County School Board member and a co-founder of the conservative activist group Moms for Liberty, has been appointed to the Florida Commission on Ethics by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The board has seven members, five of which are appointed by the governor, and considers complaints against public officials. Politico Florida. Orlando Sentinel. News Service of Florida. Florida Today.

Schools reopening today: All 67 Florida school districts have now resumed classes a little more than a week after Hurricane Idalia made landfall in the Big Bend area of the Gulf Coast. The last to open today are schools in in Lafayette, Suwannee, Taylor and Madison County High School, Madison County Central School and Pinetta Elementary in Madison County. The Madison, Live Oak and Perry branches of North Florida College remain closed all week. Florida Department of Education

Around the nation: As federal relief funding ends, school districts are cutting back on advisers, teachers and tutors who were hired to help students recover from the effects of the pandemic. “In an ideal world, I would rather have college transition advisers,” said Detroit school Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, formerly the superintendent in Duval County. “But it’s another example of making hard decisions.” Associated Press. A Washington state high school football coach who was fired for praying on the field, but won his job back after a U.S. Supreme Court decision, has resigned. Joe Kennedy said he needed to care for an ailing relative out of state. Associated Press.

Avatar photo

BY NextSteps staff