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Florida schools roundup: Appeal, mediation, homeschooling, ad and more

florida-roundup-logoScholarship appeal: The Florida Education Association, the NAACP and other groups officially file an appeal with the Florida Supreme Court over the constitutionality of the state’s tax credit scholarship program. The groups say the program diverts money from the state’s public schools system. A circuit court and appeals court have disagreed, and ruled that the groups have no legal standing to sue because they have not proven harm. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the program. Florida Politics. Politico Florida. The groups fighting the tax credit scholarship program are relying heavily on a 2006 Florida Supreme Court ruling that vouchers are unconstitutional. News Service of Florida.

Mediation in Duval: The Duval County School Board decides to hire a mediator to help resolve its differences with Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. But board members aren’t able to agree on how high to set academic goals. Some members think Vitti’s targets for progress and for lowering the achievement gap between white and minority students are too modest. Florida Times-Union.

Blacks and homeschooling: More than 84,000 students are homeschooled in Florida, and African-Americans are the fastest-growing demographic group, according to the U.S. Department of Education. WFSU.

Ad withdrawn: Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons has withdrawn a controversial TV ad about his opponent. Pons said he would apologize to Rocky Hanna, the target of the ad that focused on a 2013 paternity lawsuit, and to anyone else offended by it. Tallahassee Democrat.

Best states for teachers: Florida falls in the middle of the states in a recent ranking by the financial company WalletHub of the best and worst states for teachers. The state was judged to be 28th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. No. 1 is New Jersey. No. 51 is Hawaii. Gradebook.

Transportation audit: A state audit finds that the Palm Beach County School District’s transportation department overpaid for bus-routing software, didn’t properly inspect unsafe buses or train school bus drivers, and lost financial records. Palm Beach Post.

Superintendent jobs: The Lake County School Board gives Superintendent Susan Moxley a 4.13 rating on a 5-point scale in her final evaluation. The rating earns her a performance bonus of $17,500. Moxley is retiring at the end of the school year. Orlando Sentinel. One of four finalists for the Sarasota County school superintendent job has withdrawn. Andrew Rynberg, a former assistant superintendent in Indian River County, cited family concerns. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School closing: Archbishop Curley/Notre Dame High School in Miami is closing after this school year. Enrollment has been declining steadily at the Catholic school, which opened in 1953. Students will be moved to Monsignor Edward Pace High School campus in Miami Gardens. Miami Herald.

Charter schools: The Lake County School Board rejects an application for a charter school, citing concerns about the Florida Charter Educational Foundation’s budget, transportation and the academic performance by the company’s other schools. Daily Commercial. Volusia County school officials are recommending the school board deny a request from the Cornerstone Classical Education Foundation to open a charter school. District officials say the application meets just 6 of the 22 state standards. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Impact fee deal: The Volusia County School District and the Volusia Building Industry Association agree to keep the school impact fee at $3,000 per dwelling unit. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Schools rezoning: A Pasco County rezoning committee agrees on boundaries for a new elementary school that will also ease overcrowding at two other schools. Gradebook.

District buys exams: The Alachua County School District will spend about $700,000 to buy Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge exams. The district receives money from the state for every student who passes the exams, and it’s expected to more than make up the cost. Gainesville Sun.

Quarterly checks: The Pasco County School District cuts down on its quarterly accountability checks of schools after complaints from educators and some school board members. Tampa Bay Times.

School grade: Martin County High School’s incomplete grade is changed to a C after an appeal by the school district. The Department of Education made the change after learning that 52 students withdrew from an Algebra 1 class but were mistakenly counted as test participants. The state requires a 95 percent participation rate for a school to qualify for a grade. TCPalm.

Top teachers: Seventy-one teachers are selected to compete for Volusia County’s teacher of the year award. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Football playoffs: The Florida High School Athletic Association approves changes to the high school football playoffs. District play is eliminated for small schools (1A through 4A classifications). In the playoffs for larger schools (5A through 8A classifications), only the district champion gets an automatic spot in the playoffs. Other playoff teams will be decided by a points system based on wins and strength of schedule. The new system begins in 2017. Orlando SentinelPalm Beach Post. Florida Times-Union. Tampa Bay TimesBradenton HeraldFort Myers News-Press. Lakeland Ledger. Daily Commercial.

Illegal recruiting: A Miami-Dade School District inspector general reports that former district employee Rodolfo “Rudy” Camejo Jr. illegally recruited and housed at least 14 high school baseball players from Puerto Rico and Mexico since 1983. Miami New Times.

Student enrichment: Chocachatti Elementary School, which started a MicroSociety program in 1999 to teach children about government and businesses, wins four-star status from the worldwide MicroSociety International. And the school’s Silvina Doherty wins the 2016 George Award for outstanding MicroSociety coordinator. Tampa Bay Times. One-hundred and fifty Bay County students are inducted into the Future Physicists of Florida program. Panama City News Herald. Thayne Jasperson, a star in the Broadway show Hamilton, leads a workshop at the North Fort Myers Academy of the Arts. Fort Myers News-Press.

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BY NextSteps staff