Next steps logo

Florida schools roundup: Civil rights complaint, closings, a kind act and more

florida-roundup-logoCivil rights complaint: A federal civil rights complaint is filed against the Pinellas County School District. The Southern Poverty Law Center charges that the district punishes black students and students with disabilities more often and more harshly than it does white students. The organization is asking the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate. Southern Poverty Law Center. Huffington Post.

School closings: Many Florida school districts, including all in the Big Bend area, decide to close today as a tropical system nears the state. Some will also close Friday. Tallahassee Democrat. WFSUWUSF. WTXLCitrus County ChronicleWFTV. WJHG. WWSB. WTSP. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Panama City News Herald. St. Augustine Record. Bradenton Herald.

Act of kindness: Bo Paske, who is autistic, usually sits alone at lunch in the Montford Middle School cafeteria. But this week, Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was visiting the Tallahassee school, saw Bo alone at lunch and joined him. “I’m not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son, but I’m happy to say that it will not soon be forgotten,” Bo’s mom Leah Paske wrote on Facebook. Tallahassee DemocratAssociated PressFox News. Tampa Bay Times.

Turnaround plans: Three of the five Polk County School District’s plans to turn around struggling middle schools are approved by the Florida Board of Education. But the state says a condition of the approval is that it gets to remove teachers it deems as unsatisfactory. The board says new principals and teachers are needed at Lake Alfred-Addair and Westwood, and told the district to submit updated plans for those schools by Sept. 23. Lakeland Ledger.

Retention rules: Several members of the Florida Board of Education say the state’s policy on retaining third-graders needs clarification in the law. The state superintendents association is asking for an end to the reliance of a single test score to determine promotion. Gradebook.

Teacher bonuses: Florida Board of Education vice chairman John Padget thinks the Legislature should reconsider its Best and Brightest program, which pays bonuses to teachers partly based on their own test scores that could be decades old. Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says the department will be looking into ways to use available money to attract better teachers. Gradebook.

Troubled district: The Florida Board of Education is asking for a legal opinion on its options to deal with the failing Jefferson County School District. The state took control of the district’s financial dealings about a month ago and is looking for a way to improve the education the district’s 700 students get. One plan discussed is a takeover by a neighboring district. WFSU.

Reading or P.E.? Ten Pasco County elementary schools that were ordered by the state to add an hour a day for reading instruction are asking the state for a waiver on the required 150 minutes a week of physical education be waived. Officials say it’s too difficult to work both into a school week. Gradebook.

School enrollment: At a five-day count, Sarasota County school officials say there are 481 fewer students in the district than the expected 42,937. A second count will be held in October, and officials think it will be more accurate. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School elections: Voters’ rejection of half-cent sales tax hike for schools leaves Citrus County as one of only nine Florida counties without a sales surtax. Citrus County Chronicle. Lake County school officials worry that the defeat of two county commissioners who supported impact fees could jeopardize the district’s ability to keep pace with enrollment growth. Orlando Sentinel.

Principal resigns: Jamie Young, a principal who was appointed a few months ago to turn around the troubled Moton Elementary School in Hernando County, has resigned. She says the school doesn’t have the resources for the programs that deal with children who have behavior and learning problems. Gradebook.

Expulsions considered: The St. Lucie School District is considering expelling five students involved in a brawl at last week’s football game between Fort Pierce Westwood and Central high schools. TCPalm.

Opinions on schools: Technology should enhance knowledge for students – it certainly shouldn’t replace it. Laurie Futterman, Miami Herald. The Brevard County School Board chairman defends the removal of a speaker at a recent meeting. Matt Reed, Florida Today. Nothing Travis Rudolph does as a Florida State receiver can compare to how one selfless gesture on his part Tuesday resonated across the country. Gene Frenette, Florida Times-Union. Another student is hit and killed while walking to a Polk County school, and again the county looks for answers. Lakeland Ledger. There is no magic potion for children who come to school hungry and diminished from lives of despair, but we should agree that they need as many tools as possible. Bishop Victor T. Curry, Tallahassee Democrat.

Student enrichment: Alexander “A.J.” Manning, a 16-year-old junior at Bartow High School, finishes eighth in the world at the International Geography Olympiad in Beijing, China. Lakeland Ledger. Experts say determination can make the difference between success and failure at school. Naiyah Peterson, a seventh-grader at Jacksonville’s James Weldon Johnson College Preparatory Middle School, is a good example of how that works. Florida Times-Union. Students at Pine Island Elementary School get a visit from WaterVentures, a mobile learning lab and traveling science center. The 53-foot semi-trailer is the mobile outreach for the Crystal Springs Foundation. Pine Island Eagle. Four central Florida elementary schools are chosen to participate in the first Disney Musicals in Schools program. Students at the schools will receive 17 weeks of musical theater training from artists from the Dr. Phillips Center Florida Hospital School of the Arts and Disney Theatrical Group. Broadway World. Falcon Cover Middle School’s library/media center is transformed from a quiet spot into a technology-driven, collaborative and frequently noisy destination. WTVJ.

Avatar photo

BY NextSteps staff