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Florida schools roundup: Testing exemption, superintendents and more

florida-roundup-logoTesting exemption: A Florida court orders a hearing into a testing exemption granted to a Sarasota student with multiple disabilities. Maddie Drew’s mother Paula lobbied the Department of Education for the exemption, which was denied but later approved after a suit was filed. But Drew wants the formal review, hoping to set a precedent for future students. Gradebook. Associated Press.

Superintendent re-evaluation: If further information comes out about sexual harassment charges against new Sarasota County School Superintendent Todd Bowden, the school board could reconsider the four-year contract it just approved, says board chairwoman Shirley Brown. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Superintendent evaluation: Palm Beach County School Superintendent Robert Avossa receives high marks in his annual evaluation from school board members. Avossa was praised for reform efforts and communication skills. Palm Beach Post.

Pay raise for subs: Substitute teachers in Palm Beach County are getting a pay raise. Subs with 30 hours of college credit or more will earn $11.33 an hour, while those with a bachelor’s degree will earn $13.39. Retired teachers will get $13.91 an hour. Palm Beach Post.

School security: The Broward County School District will push to upgrade security at Coral Springs High School. A month ago, a former student walked into the school with a loaded handgun. The school is one of 74 in the county without a single point of entry to limit access. Sun Sentinel.

Contract negotiations: Mediation is set for Nov. 15 in the dispute between the Gulf County School District and its teachers. Teachers allege that Superintendent Jim Norton overstepped his authority in awarding teacher bonuses. Port St. Joe Star. There’s still no resolution in the contract dispute between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Gradebook.

Open meeting: Newly elected Pasco County School Board member Colleen Beaudoin invites other board members and school officials to a celebration brunch. Would that be a violation of the state’s open meetings law, which requires any business to be discussed in a meeting open to the public? Board attorney Dennis Alfonso says he understands the concern of an appearance of a violation, but approved the meeting as strictly a social event. Gradebook.

School enrollment: After about a decade of declining enrollment, Gulf County school officials say enrollment is up slightly. Port St. Joe Star.

Personnel changes: Jason Pepe takes over as interim communications director for the Hillsborough County School District. Former communications director T.G. Taylor was dismissed this week. Gradebook.

School fund-raiser: The North Florida School of Special Education launches a $6 million fund-raising drive for a new 32,000-square-foot building and therapeutic equestrian center. The expansion would allow the school to increase enrollment from 160 to 250. Florida Times-Union.

Business to teaching: South Florida business leaders try their hand at teaching during the annual Teach-A-Thon. Miami Herald.

School recognized: The Orange Park Town Council approves a motion to place a historical marker at the site of the old Orange Park Normal and Industrial School, the only school in the state where whites and blacks were educated together from 1891-1913. Clay Today.

Teacher’s talents: Freeport High School English teacher Troy Grisa develops a talent for juggling fire that comes in handy with his students. Northwest Florida Daily News.

New school: Ground is broken for a new Montessori preschool in Naples. It will be the fourth in the city. Naples Daily News.

Coach cleared: Atlantic High School football coach Matt Dixon has been cleared of a hazing allegation by a parent. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Teacher arrested: Everitt Middle School teacher Matthew Jay Hale, 29, is arrested and accused of having a sexual relationship with a student. Panama City News Herald.

Teacher suspended: Alimacani Elementary School teacher Linda Haggard is suspended five days by the Duval County School Board for locking students in a dark closet as a form of punishment. Associated Press.

Teachers accused: Two Ocoee High School teachers are placed on paid leave after an accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor. Police are investigating. Orlando Sentinel.

Student arrested: A 15-year-old Ridgewood High School student is arrested after telling other students he was going to “shoot up the school.” WFLA. WTSP.

Bus driver cited: A Sarasota County school bus driver is cited for careless driving after rear-ending a car on U.S. 41. Toni Parker, 61, had six students aboard at the time of the crash. None was injured. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Opinions on schools: It is time lawmakers put an end to shortchanging our schools as a matter of policy. Ocala Star Banner.

Student enrichment: Mayport Coastal Sciences Middle School receives a $97,000 grant from State Farm Insurance for their students’ Wonder World of Plankton Project. The school is one of 63 around the country to receive a grant. Mayport Mirror. Polk State Chain of Lakes and Polk State Lakeland collegiate high schools are declared high-performing charter schools by the state. Polk State College. The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden creates a mobile lab to take lessons to Miami-Dade County schools that don’t have science labs. Miami Herald. Fifth-graders from St. Clare Catholic School help release MacArthur Beach State Park’s loggerhead turtle, Searena. Palm Beach Post. Westwood Middle School sixth-graders measure erosion at Possum Creek in Gainesville’s Loblolly Woods as part of a Kids in the Woods program. Gainesville Sun. Three Lake County teachers receive more than $50,000 in grants from the Educational Foundation of Lake County to complete projects with students. Daily Commercial. Pickleball for All partners with the Collier County School District to introduce the sport to the district’s students. Naples Daily News. Hillary Clinton narrowly wins a mock election of 6,400 Flagler County students. Flagler Live.

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BY NextSteps staff