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Florida schools roundup: Education bills, sexually abusive teachers and more

florida-roundup-logoEducation legislation: About a dozen education-related bills have already been filed for the next session of the Legislature, which begins in March. Among them: an end to in-state college tuition for immigrant students who don’t have full legal status, a requirement of 20 minutes of recess a day for elementary students, a rework of the teacher bonuses program, allowing computer coding to satisfy foreign language requirements, and allowing people to bring guns on college campuses. Sun-Sentinel.

Sexually abusive teachers: A publishing company’s year-long investigation finds that 100 teachers who sexually abused students are continuing to work in U.S. classrooms because schools are covering up evidence and keeping allegations secret. The investigation also rated the states on teacher background checks. Florida received a grade of C, rating highly for making information on teacher discipline available online and for its strong mandatory reporting of teacher misconduct, but lower on the state’s screening system and on sharing information about teacher misconduct with other states. USA Today.

New superintendent: The Lake County School Board hires Diane Kornegay as its new superintendent. Kornegay, who is deputy superintendent at the Clay County School District, was the clear favorite of the board and the only one of the six finalists to be asked back for a second round of interviews. She will replace the retiring Susan Moxley. Kornegay will be paid $196,000, but she can make up to $34,000 more in incentives for student performance. Daily Commercial. Orlando Sentinel.

Notable deaths: Herbert Cambridge, the first black teacher at Naples High School and former Naples NAACP president, died earlier this month at his Tampa home. He was 89. Naples Daily News.

Graduation rate: The Collier County high school graduation rate jumped 2.4 percentage points in 2016, to 86.7 percent, putting the district 6 points higher than the state average. Naples Daily News. Graduation rates at Lee County high schools were also up 3.1 percentage points, to 77.9 percent. Fort Myers News-Press.

Satanic teacher defended: Some parents are demanding a Boca Raton Middle School teacher be fired for placing a Satanic display in a city park. But one parent has voiced support for Preston Smith with a posting on that urged people: “Please take your anger and channel it into the positive. There are any number of worthwhile charities in this city that desperately need volunteers and donations. This is what Christ would want you to do.” Palm Beach Post.

Pool repairs approved: The Flagler County School Board approves spending $257,850 to repair the pool at the Belle Terre Swim & Racquet Club. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

School property: Archbishop Curley-Notre Dame High School will close next year, and the 15 acres it sits on just south of Little Haiti is drawing interest from developers. Miami Herald.

Football mom honored: Robin Tartarkin, a Boca Raton woman who prodded and pushed her son’s Spanish River High School football friends and helped them every step of the way into college in 2003, is one of the subjects of a new book, Angels on Earth: Inspiring Stories of Fate, Friendship and the Power of Connections, by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski. Sun-Sentinel.

Teacher arrested: A Hillsborough County teacher is arrested and accused of sexually molesting a disabled teenager at his school. Police say George Summers Jr., 68, assaulted the student Dec. 1 at LaVoy Exceptional Center. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA.

Opinions on schools: Lake County’s new School Superintendent Diane Kornegay will face a bunch of entrenched, overpaid bureaucrats who so far have successfully resisted attempts to toss them back into the classroom, which is where they’re needed. Lauren Ritchie, Orlando Sentinel. I believe that achievement cannot be measured by one test score and that learning is a process, not a product. Most important, I do not view students and parents as “customers,” as I am a teacher, not a salesperson. Mary Louise Wells, Orlando Sentinel. It’s encouraging that graduation rates rose almost across the board at Treasure Coast schools. However, as Indian River County Schools Superintendent Mark Rendell noted, there’s still plenty of work to be done. TCPalm.

Student enrichment: Advanced Placement Human Geography students at Winter Park High School, a mostly white school in an affluent neighborhood, and Jones High School, a mostly black school in a poorer neighborhood, collaborate in discussions and assignments through teleconferencing. Orlando Sentinel. Max De Witte and Stefano Marconi, both juniors at Riviera Preparatory Schoo, are raising money to buy equipment to donate to a Little Haiti soccer club. Miami Herald. Tiffany Mills and Nyssa Carroll, teachers at West DeFuniak Elementary School, create Grades for Good, which helps students raise money for good grades so they can buy materials for the Walton County Animal Shelter. Panama City News Herald.

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BY NextSteps staff