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Florida schools roundup: Extra pay, middle school marriage and more

florida-roundup-logoPayment questioned: A Broward County School District audit reveals that the district paid a former district police employee about $23,000 over her approved salary in 2015. Jillian Haring was a special assistant to the district police chief, making $60,664. But she was also being paid for other duties that the district did not need, according to the audit. Haring now works in the district’s special education department. Sun-Sentinel.

Middle school marriage: The Bonita Middle School student had an arranged marriage at 13 and was a mother at 14. Now she’s 20, and her 31-year-old husband has been arrested and faces charges of lewd and lascivious behavior. And Lee County school officials are left to wonder how the situation could have gone unnoticed for so long. Fort Myers News-Press.

School choice: At its quarterly meeting, the Florida NAACP debates the role of charter schools. The national NAACP recently passed a resolution calling for “a moratorium on charter school expansion and for the strengthening of oversight in governance and practice.” But there is dissent in the ranks about the issue. WOFL. redefinED.

Magnet programs: While Alachua County’s magnet school programs offer great opportunities for high-achieving students, critics say there are too many barriers for entry for students of different academic backgrounds. School officials say they are working hard to identify and encourage students of all backgrounds to apply. Gainesville Sun.

Legislative priorities: Common Ground, a group of organizations that has called for the end of Common Core standards, now says it wants the Legislature to end the Common Core-aligned Florida Standards Assessments in both English and math. Sunshine State News.

Religion in schools: State Rep. Kim Daniels, D-Jacksonville, writes on her Facebook page that the motivation for filing a bill to protect religious expression in schools is to get prayer back in schools. Daniels is a minister and founder of Kimberly Daniels Ministries International. Florida Politics.

Employees honored: Lacey Brown, who teaches at Jim Allen Elementary School, is named the Escambia County School District’s teacher of the year. Pensacola News. Rob Patterson, a fifth grade teacher at Veterans Elementary School in Wesley Chapel, is named the Pasco County School District’s teacher of the year. Sharaya Janes, a resource management associate at Gulf High, is the school-related employee of the year. Rebecca Musselman, a supervisor in the Office for Technology and Information Services, is administrator of the year, and Jenatte Smith, a child care site manager at Mary Giella Elementary, is nonbargaining employee of the year. Tampa Bay Times. April Wallace, a fifth grade teacher, is named teacher of the year at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Frank Smith, a mechanic in the transportation department, is named school-related employee of the year. St. Augustine Record. Six Lee County School District workers are nominated to be the district’s school-related employee of the year. The winner will be announced Feb. 6. Fort Myers News-Press.

Learning English: The number of English language learners in St. Lucie, Martin and Indian Rivers counties’ schools is up about 8 percent this year, to 7,380. Many of them are performing below grade level, posing challenges to teachers and schools. TCPalm.

Rezoning realities: Parents and students in Pasco and other fast-growing counties in Florida suggest that school officials give more consideration to the effect rezoning has on students. Pasco County School Board member Steve Luikart argues that a teen’s life is defined by the high school years, and disrupting that sense of belonging could harm their academic and social progress. Tampa Bay Times.

District priorities: Leon County School Superintendent Rocky Hanna says his 2017 priorities are dealing with district finances, addressing teacher morale and cutting back on testing. WFSU.

New school: Two weeks ago Santa Rosa County School Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick mentioned at a school board meeting that the district projects the need for a high school in the south part of the county in 8 to 10 years. Excited members of that community are already considering a name for the school and a mascot. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Lawsuit to begin: A defamation lawsuit against the Manatee County School Board, the former superintendent and a former district investigator is scheduled to go to trial Tuesday. Joseph Kinnan, former football coach and athletic director at Manatee High School, is alleging defamation, breach of contract, emotional distress, malicious prosecution and conspiracy in his 2014 firing after a scandal involving the baseball team. The school board attorney is asking the court to dismiss the case. Bradenton Herald.

Ex-teacher seeks settlement: More than three years years after an elementary school teacher was run over by a county ambulance, she’s still waiting for the $1.15 million Leon County officials agreed to pay her. The settlement for Angela Sanford awaits approval by the Legislature. Tallahassee Democrat.

Principal arrested: Tonja Lindsey-Latson, the principal of West Riviera Elementary, is arrested and removed from her job after she’s accused of pawning a school computer five times in the past year. Palm Beach Post.

No prison for Murgio: Former Palm Beach County School Board member Mike Murgio will not go to prison for obstructing examination of a financial institution. Murgio, 66, was fined $12,000 and given a year of probation for trying to hide his son’s unlicensed money-exchange business from federal regulators. Palm Beach Post. Sun-Sentinel.

Secret recording: A student admits secretly recording a meeting with Academy of Environmental Science administrator Sandy Balfour to catch her in the act of belittling a student, then sending it to a school board member. That member refused to listen to it because of the way it was obtained, but it surfaced last week when Balfour was reprimanded and transferred. Citrus County Chronicle.

Opinions on schools: It was as jarring as Donald Trump’s hand on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible that the Florida Supremes refused to shut down the crown jewel of school voucher programs, the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. Don Gaetz, Pensacola News Journal. Kudos to the Collier County School District, which has 14 schools earning five-star rating from the Florida Department of Education for exemplary community involvement. Naples Daily News. Although Collier County spends close to a billion of your tax dollars on an annual basis to tout higher graduation rates, many are not prepared for the real world and, unfortunately, a solid majority are not “college and career ready.” David Bolduc, Naples Daily News. It’s time to simplify standardized testing, and make it more transparent. David Jenrette, Ocala Star Banner. When it came time to give a speech, a teacher becomes the student. Jennifer Thomas, Ocala Star Banner. The emphasis our district places on accountability and recognition is exemplary and in some measure explains why Citrus County has one of the top school districts in the state. Citrus County Chronicle.

Student enrichment: Mariah Denney, a homeschooled eighth-grader, wins the Putnam County Spelling Bee. Florida Times-Union. Three winners of the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge offer advice to this year’s competitors. Miami Herald. Rymfire Elementary School in Palm Coast sets up a Tropical Oasis Cafe in the school’s media center to try to broaden students’ reading interests. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Schools compete in the state cheerleading championships. Miami Herald. Bay News 9. Gainesville Sun.

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BY NextSteps staff