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Florida schools roundup: Closings, open enrollment, plagiarism ban and more

florida-roundup-logoStorm-watching: Many school districts along Florida’s east coast are closing Thursday and Friday because of Hurricane Matthew, while others are monitoring the path of the storm before deciding. Miami Herald. WSVNOrlando Sentinel. WFTVSun-Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. WPBFFlorida Times-Union. WJXT. WTVJFlorida Today. Lakeland Ledger. WFLADaytona Beach News-Journal. St. Augustine Record. Osceola News-Gazette.

Open enrollment: The state’s new school open-enrollment law hinges on the definition of available spots at schools, and each school district is being given the discretion to make the rules that define open spots. Palm Beach school officials are considering adopting a narrow definition that would put open enrollment off-limits at more than 30 schools that have capacity according to state guidelines. Other large districts are expected to take similar steps. Palm Beach Post.

Plagiarism ban: The Palm Beach County School Board is considering a formal ban on plagiarism for all school employees. The change in the district’s ethics code would prohibit “knowingly taking responsibility and credit for work performed or produced by others; or failing to acknowledge the work and contributions made by others, including any acts of plagiarism.” Palm Beach Post.

Crossing guard shortage: Some Orange County parents worry that a shortage of school crossing guards threatens the safety of their children. The sheriff’s department has 34 vacancies, though an official says a dozen have been filled. Those guards are going through training now and should be working Monday. Orlando Sentinel.

Impact fee approved: Brevard County commissioners approve a $650 increase in the school impact fee for new single-family home construction. Fees are lowered for multi-family units and mobile homes. Florida Today.

Suit settled: An architect agrees to pay the Broward County School District $1.56 million to settle a lawsuit over fire safety design issues at North Andrews Gardens Elementary School in Oakland Park. Construction on the school began in 2002, and in 2003 a district inspector said two buildings didn’t meet state fire codes. The district sued Saltz Michelson Architects in 2008. Sun-Sentinel.

Turnaround planning: Polk County school officials are concerned about low turnout at community meetings called to help develop plans to turn around several struggling schools. Only about 20 people showed up for a meeting Tuesday. Lakeland Ledger.

Rezoning concerns: Pasco County School Board members reject a request from parents to put a halt to plans for rezoning school boundaries. Board members say they want to let the planning process proceed before they step in to make decisions. Gradebook. WTSP.

Deer killed at center: Two deer are killed and a third injured by intruders at an environmental education center in Thonotosassa. Nature’s Classroom is a frequent field trip spot for schoolchildren in the Tampa Bay area. Tampa Bay Times.

School evacuation: Crystal River Primary School is evacuated when three students complain about breathing problems. No problems were found. Citrus County Chronicle.

Clown threats: A 12-year-old boy is arrested and accused of making an online threat against Seven Springs Middle School in New Port Richey. The boy used a clown image in the posting. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WTSP. Three Lake County middle school students are arrested and charged with wearing a mask to intimidate and disrupting the educational process. Orlando Sentinel. Daily Commercial. Police are investigating rumors about more clown threats to several St. Petersburg schools. Tampa Bay Times. Threats are also made against Hillsborough County students by someone using a clown image. WFLA. School police in Palm Beach County say the clown hoax threats are no joke, and the people making them will be prosecuted. Palm Beach Post.

Students plead guilty: Four G. Holmes Braddock High students who were accused in an after-prom sexual assault of an unconscious 21-year-old woman plead guilty but avoid prison time when the victim decided she didn’t want to go through the trial process. Miami Herald.

Opinions on schools: Legislatures across the country are trying to destroy public education and put it in the hands of private companies that are profit motivated. Hal Krantz, Sun-Sentinel. When the State Board of Education makes its proposal to the Florida Legislature about how to design a new teacher incentive program, it should address the chaotic mess that is the state’s teacher evaluation program. Paul Cottle, Bridge to Tomorrow.

Student enrichment: Wards Creek Elementary School students are painting scrapwood guitars that are donated to terminally ill and disabled children. St. Augustine Record.

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BY NextSteps staff