Florida schools roundup: Superintendent investigated, pay raise request and more

florida-roundup-logoSuperintendent investigated: Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons is under investigation after “possibly compromising” photos were given anonymously to district officials. The photos apparently show Pons getting into and out of a car with a female district employee in a heavily wooded area. Pons, who lost his bid for re-election and leaves office Tuesday, will be investigated by an outside firm. Tallahassee Democrat. WFSU.

Raise request: Palm Beach County School Superintendent Robert Avossa is asking the school board for a $10,000 a year raise. Avossa, who is the state’s highest-paid superintendent at $325,000 a year, was given a highly effective rating by board members earlier this month. Palm Beach Post.

Open enrollment: Pasco County schools that are at 90 percent or higher capacity will be closed to transfers if the school board approves the district’s proposed rules. In-county students will get first preference at those schools under 90 percent. The new state law allowing a student to transfer to any school that has an available seat takes effect next fall. Gradebook.

School may close: The only elementary school in Jefferson County could close by Christmas. A state financial oversight board has given the school district until Nov. 30 to submit a school transition plan and budget. New Superintendent Mary Ann Arbulu, who takes office Nov. 22, has asked for more time. If Jefferson Elementary is closed, students will be sent to Jefferson Middle. The district is down to 700 students and has struggled with its finances and poor grades from the state. WFSU.

District honored: The Miami-Dade County School District is one of 30 around the United States honored at the White House for innovations and personalized learning. Miami-Dade was the only Florida district selected. Miami Herald.

Community school: The Alachua County School Board unanimously agrees to help establish a community school program at Howard Middle School. A community school supports students, their families and community members with health care, tutoring, immunizations and other types of academic help. Partners in establishing the program are the Children’s Home Society of Florida, the Alachua County Health Department, Santa Fe College and the University of Florida. Gainesville Sun.

No retroactive pay: The Polk County School Board votes against retroactive pay for substitute teachers, a move that would have cost the district $2.3 million. The union argued that those substitute teachers who were working toward certification or who had been teachers but let their certification lapse should be paid at the same rate as regular teachers. Lakeland Ledger.

School elections: A week after the election, Sara Beth Reynolds, 24, is declared the winner of the Polk County School Board District 4 race. Reynolds defeated Becky Troutman by 559 votes out of 231,3745 cast. Lakeland Ledger. Two longtime figures in Polk County education attend their last school board meeting. Hunt Berryman was defeated by Billy Townsend last week and Dick Mullenax did not seek re-election. Lakeland Ledger. Newly elected Lee County School Board member Melisa Giovannelli is sworn into office at her local church. Fort Myers News-Press. Sarasota County School Board member Frank Kovach attends his final meeting after 16 years on the board. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Melody Johnson is elected chairwoman of the Volusia County School Board. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Free breakfasts: Eight Palm Beach County schools win grants from Kellogg’s to have breakfast carts providing free meals for students every morning. Each school received $8,000 for the cart and a computer to track the food. The carts are stocked with portable food already at each school, but the cart can make it more accessible. Palm Beach Post.

Notable deaths: Elvis Paschal, marching band director at several Miami high schools over nearly 30 years, has died of cancer at age 66. Miami Herald. Rutherford High School students hold a candlelight vigil as a memorial for senior Matthew Gardiner, who died of brain cancer. Panama City News Herald.

Preschool sued: The parents of two preschool girls are suing Bola Childcare and Learning Center in Miami, alleging the school failed to protect the children from molestation by a 16-year-old boy. Miami Herald.

Assistant principal arrested: An assistant principal at Anclote High School is arrested for possession of a controlled substance. Deputies say Donna Haff, 50, overdosed on edible marijuana in cookies and was hospitalized, then arrested after her release. She was placed on administrative leave by the Pasco County School District. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA. WTSP.

Student arrested: An 18-year-old student at Palm Beach Lakes High School is arrested after shoving a school resource officer who was trying to stop a fight. Michael Clark Jr. was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and disruption of school functions. Palm Beach Post.

Bus driver fired: An Escambia County school bus driver who is accused of hitting a student with a hammer is fired by the Escambia County School Board. Jimmy Edwards, 55, was arrested on felony charges of child neglect and cruelty toward a child. The bus monitor at the time of the incident, Pamela Bethea, remains suspended until the district’s investigation is completed. Pensacola News Journal.

Student hit by car: An 8-year-old girl is hit by a car’s side mirror while walking to Cleveland Elementary School. The girl was hospitalized with what officials called non life-threatening injuries. WFLA.

Student enrichment: A week after racist graffiti was posted in a girls bathroom at Oviedo High School, four girls post hundreds of notes with upbeat and hopeful messages. “I didn’t like negativity it was spreading, and I wanted to do something positive,” said sophomore Bryn Garick, 15. Orlando Sentinel. Welles Harris is one of 34 students worldwide with a perfect score on the 2016 Advanced Placement Macroeconomics exam. Harris graduated from the Community School of Naples and is now at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Naples Daily News. Paolo Cesti, an eighth-grader at Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts, wins the award for best middle school film at the All-American High School Film Festival. His movie, Isolation, is about the suicide of an artistic who was bullied at school. Miami Herald. Three Boynton Beach High School students are among the first in the United States to become certified to fly commercial drones. Sun-Sentinel. Bond Elementary School media specialist Rhonda Harden uses a front porch as a gathering spot for reading with students. Tallahassee Democrat. Students at Walton Academy charter school in DeFuniak Springs are building a garden. Food grown in it will be donated to agencies that provide meals to needy people. Northwest Florida Daily News. Inverness Middle School students are learning the basics of crime scene investigation as part of a technology education course. Citrus County Chronicle.

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BY NextSteps staff