Florida schools roundup: Grades in, Vitti’s job, racial goals and more

florida-roundup-logoSchool grades: The 114 Florida schools that received preliminary grades of incomplete in May now have their final marks from the state. Incompletes are given when fewer than 95 percent of a school’s students take the Florida Standards Assessments tests. Orlando Sentinel. Both schools in Franklin County receive C grades from the state. Apalachicola Times.

Superintendent jobs: After being lobbied by community leaders who expressed support for Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, school board chairwoman Ashley Smith Suarez now says firing Vitti is no longer on the agenda for Friday’s board meeting. Smith Suarez had asked Vitti to resign, and said if he didn’t he would risk termination. She has accused him of being untruthful with the board and not being aggressive enough in closing the achievement gap between white and minority students. Florida Times-Union. Florida Politics. WTLV. A Sumter County School Board member says he has no confidence in an investigation that cleared Superintendent Rick Shirley of coercing employees to work on his re-election campaign. David Williams said the investigation, which was launched by school board chair Kenneth Jones without consultation with the board, was unfair and biased. Villages News.

Race-based targets: The Florida Board of Education is considering an end to race-based student achievement goals. Instead, the board would impose improvement targets for all students while still setting goals for closing the achievement gap. Gradebook. The board also is expected to consider new rules for charter school capital spending at its meeting Friday. The new rules approved by the Legislature loosen charter schools’ eligibility for the funds, but also impose new restrictions. Gradebook.

Recess policy: A Duval County School District policy review committee recommends that the school board approve daily recess for all elementary students. The resolution is not binding and does not suggest a start date, but supporters of daily recess call it a step in the right direction. Florida Times-Union.

Later start times: Orange County parents, students and community members will be surveyed on the issue of later starting times for the district’s high schools. Those schools now start between 7:10 and 7:30 a.m. Research has shown that high school students perform better academically when their schools start later in the day. Orlando Sentinel.

Extra hour: Educators say the extra hour of school required for the lowest-achieving 311 elementary schools in the state can make a big difference for students’ reading skills – if it’s planned correctly. Tampa Bay Times.

Abuse reported: Authorities are investigating allegations of abuse at the Yulee Primary School. The Florida Department of Children and Families and the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office say a paraprofessional at the school is alleged to have abused two special-needs students. Florida Times-Union. Clearwater Catholic High School and its former wrestling coach are being sued for alleged physical, emotional and sexual abuse. A former student claims the abuse by Scott E. Stern, the school’s wrestling coach from 2003-2014, began in 2013. Tampa Bay Times.

Charter schools: The Clay County School Board approves one charter school applications but rejects another. The St. John’s Classical Academy was approved on a 3-2 vote, while the Clay Classical Academy was denied in a 4-1 vote. The district’s charter review committee had recommended both applications be rejected. Clay Today.

School bus policies: A Hernando County School Board member wants the district to re-evaluate its policies on school bus drivers. Beth Narverud cites the case of bus driver Mildred Rogers as an example. Rodgers has accumulated 23 points for traffic infractions since 2001 and caused six wrecks. But under the current policy, Rodgers is cleared to continue driving. Tampa Bay Times.

Complaint proceeds: A dispute over teacher bonuses leads the teachers union to file an unfair labor practices charge against the Gulf County School District. The Public Employees Relation Commission has 40 days to set a hearing date before an administrative law judge. Port St. Joe Star.

Minority teachers: Jackson County school officials discuss ways to recruit minority teachers. WJHG.

Private fundraising: Several private Tampa Bay area schools hold successful fundraising drives for expansion. Tampa Bay Times.

After-school meals: The Palm Beach County School District is doubling the number of schools where it will serve dinner to low-income students. Palm Beach Post.

Boy for queen: Anthony Martinez will be allowed to run for homecoming queen at Cypress Creek High School in Orlando. Martinez was originally told he was not eligible because he was a boy, but principal John McHale reversed himself. WCBM.

Flag confrontation: A Clay County High School student is told to remove a Confederate flag from his truck or face punishment. Instead, the boy gave up his school parking pass. WJAX.

Costume controversy: Two Palatka High School students spark controversy by dressing as Donald Trump and the wall he says he will build between the United States and Mexico. WTLV.

Teachers honored: Two Brooksville Elementary School teachers are nominated for the LifeChanger of the Year award given annually by the Life Insurance Company of the Southwest. Connie Jeppesen teaches kindergarten, and Amy Ellison teaches first grade. Tampa Bay Times.

School threats: Parents get an update on the social media threats made against Lincoln Park Academy in Fort Pierce. Principal Henry Sanabria says no credible threats have been discovered, but there will be increased police presence at the magnet school. WPTV.

Students hit by car: A Jupiter High School student riding his bike to school is hit by a vehicle just west of the school and seriously injured. Palm Beach Post. Five Volusia County students have been hit by cars near schools since school began. None has been seriously hurt. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Student arrested: A 13-year-old student is arrested and accused of trying to poison his teacher. The girl crushed chalk and poured it into her teacher’s coffee mug at the Achieve Center of Pasco, which deals with students who have emotional and behavioral disabilities. Tampa Bay Times. WTSP.

Opinions on schools: The Duval County School Board and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti should work together to come up with a plan to close the achievement gap. Florida Times-Union. If we want the achievement gap to decrease, we need to be placing attention not only on the K-12 school system but on what happens before children reach the classroom. Florida Times-Union.

Student enrichment: Students at Wesley Chapel’s Wiregrass Ranch High School celebrate diversity at their annual Unity Day. Tampa Bay Times. The Lee County School District partners with the Lee Memorial Health System to set up job training for disabled students. Fort Myers News-Press. Four Alachua County middle-schoolers make it into the semifinalist round at the national Broadcom MASTERS competition for the use of science to solve problems. Gainesville Sun. Seated, standing or lying down: Students in Devereaux Stark’s third-grade class at Queen of Peace Catholic Academy have options thanks to flexible seating. Gainesville Sun. Miami-Dade County students get tips on protecting their online reputation. WTVJ.

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BY NextSteps staff