Next steps logo

Florida schools roundup: H.B. 7069 suit, makeup days, choice gains and more

H.B. 7069 lawsuit: The Clay County School Board votes 3-2 to join 14 other school districts in suing the state over the new education law, H.B. 7069. The suit, which has not yet been filed, is expected to challenge the constitutionality of the law on grounds that it covers more than one subject, and that it redirects traditional public school money to charter schools while stripping local boards of authority over those charter schools. Florida Times-Union. Collier County School Board members decline to join the lawsuit, by a 4-1 vote. Next month the board will consider filing a separate lawsuit. Naples Daily News. At a Hillsborough County School Board finance committee meeting, several district officials express reluctance to join other districts in suing the state over the new education law. “Why is it that we just can’t we just go up there and talk?” mused Gretchen Saunders, the district’s chief business officer. The board will discuss the lawsuit at a workshop Thursday. Gradebook.

Makeup days: Palm Beach County school officials want to use three professional development days as makeup days for classtime lost to Hurricane Irma, and will ask the state to waive two more makeup days. Students were out of school seven days, and the state has already waived two of those days. In Broward County, officials are proposing that two early-release days be converted to full days. Schools must be in session for 180 days, or 720 hours for K-3 and 900 hours for grades 4-12. Palm Beach PostSun-Sentinel. WPBF.

Gains for choice students: Low-income students who use Florida tax credit scholarships to attend private schools are more likely to go to college and get degrees than their peers in public schools, according to a study by the Urban Institute. The college enrollment rate is 15 percent higher, but jumps to 40 percent among students who use a scholarship for at least four years. More than 100,000 students use the scholarships. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer the program. redefinED. Associated Press. Chalkbeat. Politico Florida.

District budgets: The Collier County School Board approves a $1.05 billion budget, which is an increase of about $24 million over last year’s spending. Naples Daily News. The Brevard County School Board approves a $942 million budget over the protests of teachers who want a raise of more than 1 percent. Florida Today.

Raise for superintendent: Broward County School Superintendent Robert Runcie got a glowing job evaluation last week, and now several school board members say they’ll support a pay raise for him. Runcie makes $307,503 a year. His contract ends next year, but several board members want to begin negotiations for an extension now. Sun-Sentinel.

Teacher transferred: Chloe Bressack, the Leon County teacher who requested her Canopy Oaks Elementary students use gender-neutral pronouns, is transferred to the district’s adult education program. “This afternoon I had an open conversation with Teacher Bressack. Given the complexity of the issue, we both agreed a different environment would be best for Teacher Bressack’s educational career and for the young students at Canopy Oaks,” Superintendent Rocky Hanna said in a statement. Tallahassee Democrat.

Superintendent contradicted: A bureau chief with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office says he sent School Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson an email with a report of a child abuse investigation May 18 as he was calling to inform her that a criminal investigation was being launched. Arnold Brown’s statement contradicts Jackson’s story that she had just recently seen the email with the abuse report attached and opened it. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Racial harassment suit: A federal judge rules that a lawsuit alleging racial harassment against the Okaloosa County School District and Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson can move forward. It was filed in 2016 by the parents of two black children at the Baker School, who say their son were victims of pervasive harassment. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Anthem protocol: Manatee County school officials send an email to administrators reminding them that it’s against district rules for student-athletes not to stand during the national anthem. Bradenton Herald.

Settlement reached: The Palm Beach County School Board is expected to approve a settlement of $185,000 to a 7-year-old autistic boy who was forced to perform sex acts on a Palm Beach County school playground in 2015. An investigation found the child was inadequately supervised while playing at Addison Mizner Elementary School in Boca Raton. The lawsuit was filed last year. Palm Beach Post.

Board member cleared: A Brevard County School District investigation clears school board member Andy Ziegler of a sexual harassment charge. A female coworker said Ziegler invited her to a party, showed up uninvited to her house and ran his hands up her back. Ziegler apologized at a board meeting, saying, “Although I’m happy with the outcome, I’m very disappointed that I would possibly ever do something that would make anybody feel uncomfortable.” Florida Today.

District hires PR firm: The Sarasota County School District will pay a public relations firm $225,000 over two years to help with communications. The firm, ThreeSixOh, represented Superintendent Todd Bowden when he was investigated on sexual harassment charges last year, and also has done work for school board member Eric Robinson. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School water questions: The water supply is safe for current Bayshore High School students and staff, according to a study by an engineering consultant. But there is no way to tell if the water was contaminated from 1962-1999, when the new school was built. No water test records exist from 30 years ago, the engineers said. Bradenton Herald.

Rezoning proposal: More than 1,100 Brevard County students would have to change schools if a redistricting proposal is approved. The rezoning is part of the district’s five-year plan to deal with enrollment growth. Florida Today.

Question irks parents: Parents are criticizing the use of a question and answer about the NRA on a 7th grade civics test at Emerald Coast Middle School in Santa Rosa Beach. The question is: “Bob Smith is running for Congress. He is known to be in favor of passing gun control. What would the NRA (National Rifle Association) do?” The answer options include “Shoot him.” Principal Jeff Infinger acknowledges the question is “in bad taste,” but says it has been on tests for at least five years. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Uniform controversy: The Miami Northwestern Senior High dance team is being criticized for wearing risque outfits during a recent performance, which was caught on video and posted on social media. Principal Wallace Aristide says dance team parents approved the costumes, but adds, “Looking ahead, we will implement a more comprehensive and stringent uniform approval process to ensure an appropriate representation of our school.” WSVN. WPLG.

Insurance dispute: Bay County School Board members delay a decision on whether to require booster clubs and other parent-run organizations to have insurance when using school facilities. Panama City News Herald.

Private school problems: Two ex-employees of a private Winter Haven school have been arrested for abusing an 8-year-old boy who has attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. Police say Our Children’s of Winter Haven paraprofessionals Kaderrica Smith and Alexis Henderson taunted and tripped the boy and threw a backpack in his face. Parents of former students say the school, which has students from age 3 through high school, has a history of problems. Lakeland Ledger.

Principal sues over threats: The former principal at Tarpon Springs High School is suing a man over alleged threats made against him in 2015. James Joyer, now the administrator at the Clearwater Adult Education Center, says Edward Ecker threatened physical violence and called him a philanderer and adulterer, causing him emotional distress and harming his career. Tampa Bay Times.

Students arrested: A student is arrested for bringing a loaded gun to First Coast High School in Jacksonville, according to school police. Principal Timothy Simmons said no one was threatened or injured. Florida Times-Union. WJAX. A 12-year-old boy is arrested and accused of burglarizing Melrose Elementary School while it was closed during Hurricane Irma. Tampa Bay Times.

Opinions on schools: Cuts in Florida’s education spending could threaten this state’s future economic viability, so legislators should consider dipping into the state’s $3.5 billion reserve fund to bolster what looks to be a lean budget year. Panama City News Herald.

Avatar photo

BY NextSteps staff