Florida schools roundup: Another game shooting, security funding and more

Another game shooting: One person is dead and two others wounded after a shooting as fans exited the Raines-Lee high school football game in Jacksonville on Friday night. No one has been arrested, and deputies say the shootings are gang-related. Duval County Superintendent Diana Greene was at the game, and calls the shooting “unacceptable. This is a community issue. I need parents, students to stand up. If you see something, say something.” Greene says she and school district officials will be discussing changes needed to be made to ensure the safety of all students. Florida Times-Union. WJAX. WJXT. Backpacks and book bags are now banned from Orange and Seminole counties high school football games for security reasons, district officials announce. Orlando Sentinel. Bag searches and metal detector scans are among the new security measures that were unveiled at high school football games in Palm Beach County over the weekend. Palm Beach Post.

School security: Legislators from both parties say the state should take another look at the formula used to determine how security funds are distributed to schools, especially small independent schools. Gov. Rick Scott also has asked the Legislature to revise a law to allow unclaimed money from the armed guardian program to be used for other school district security needs. But House Speaker-elect Jose Oliva, R-Hialeah, and incoming Senate President-elect Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, both say the money should stay in the armed guardian fund. redefinED. Ocala Police Department officials say they have clarified with Marion County school officials how to notify parents after an emergency at a school. School officials complained that they were prohibited by police from notifying parents for more than four hours after a gun was found in a student’s backpack at West Port High School last week. Ocala Star-Banner. The Citrus County School District is scheduling training for students in the ALICE program, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate, to respond to school intruders. Citrus County Chronicle. Damien Kelly, the state’s first director of Safe Schools, is profiled. TCPalm.

Teacher wounded: A St. Lucie County teacher was wounded Sunday when a man opened fire during a video game tournament in Jacksonville. Dalton Kent, who was shot in the shin, is a teacher at Treasure Coast High School in Port St. Lucie. Two were killed and 11 injured before the gunman shot himself. “I heard some shots go off,” Kent said in an interview. “Everyone panicked. The guys near me — we just dove under the table and kind of covered ourselves. We balled up together.” WPBF. TCPalm.

Tax hike to ballot: The Hillsborough County School Board agrees to ask voters in November to approve a half-cent, 10-year sales tax increase for repairs and maintenance at schools. The district has had problems with aging air-conditioning systems, and says repairs would cost $340 million. The tax would raise an estimated $131 million a year. Voters are also being asked to approve an extra cent for transportation improvements. If both pass, the county’s sales tax would jump to 8.5 percent, highest in the state. WTSP. Gradebook.

Desegregation agreement: The Indian River County School Board and local NAACP officials reach an agreement that could get the district released from a 1967 federal desegregation order. If the district improves minority teacher recruitment and agrees to assure that all minority students are given the same academic opportunities as other students, the federal order could be lifted in three years. A five-member committee will be appointed to monitor the district’s actions and issue progress reports each November. NAACP officials say the signed the agreement because the organization can’t afford to keep fighting in court. TCPalm.

Transgender ruling appealed: The St. Johns County School Board is appealing a ruling by a federal judge that the district must allow a transgender student to use the boys bathrooms at Nease High School. After the ruling in July in favor of Drew Adams, now a senior at the school in Ponte Vedra Beach, Superintendent Tim Forson said, “We are disappointed with Judge Corrigan’s decision, but respect the legal process and will abide by the final outcome.” St. Augustine RecordWJAX. WTLV.

Assessment of schools: Lake County School Superintendent Diane Kornegay says the district has improved, with higher graduation rates, student retention and test scores, but continues to lag behind other districts in some key benchmarks. “I want to say I’m really proud of the work we’ve accomplished in a year,” says Kornegay. “But we have a long way to go.” Daily Commercial.

Fraternization rules: The Leon County School Board will consider a new policy that would prohibit relatives supervising another relative and being involved in their hiring and promotion. The anti-fraternization policy also would address “dating, amorous, intimate and/or  consensual sexual relationships” involving supervisors and subordinates. “It’s something we feel it’s past time for the district to have,” says board chairwoman Alva Striplin. Tallahassee Democrat.

Development drops school: A developer scraps plans to build a K-5 school in a new housing area in northeastern Leon County. The developer is proposing to buy back 7 acres planned for the school for $235,000. The district would use the money to improve W.T. Moore Elementary School, where students from the development will be zoned to attend. Tallahassee Democrat.

Charter schools: The KIPP Sunrise Academy opens in the Liberty City area of Miami, becoming the neighborhood’s first charter school and the first school KIPP has started in south Florida. The school is beginning with kindergartners and 1st-graders, with plans to expand to K-12. Miami Times. The Parkland City Commission votes Sept. 5 on a proposed charter school. Somerset Parkland Academy would be a K-8 school with a capacity for 1,280 students. Parkland Talk. A charter school that wants to open in Volusia County is asking the school board to reconsider its application. In 2017 the board denied an application for the Southeast Volusia School of Science and Technology for middle and high school students. The charter wants to open in August 2020. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

School enrollment: School enrollment is up in Sarasota and Manatee counties, but only slightly. The number of students in Sarasota increased by 123 at the five-day count, to 42,441. In Manatee, 170 more students were counted, bringing the total to 48,377. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

School gets mascot: A new high school planned for the Parrish area of Manatee County won’t get a name for six months, but it does have a mascot. About 1,100 future school students got to decide, and about 40 percent favored Bulls. The school is scheduled to open next August. Bradenton Herald.

School board elections: Seven of the 15 candidates for three seats on the Lee County School Board are black, giving supporters hope that the board’s color barrier can be broken this year. No minority candidate has ever been elected to the board. Fort Myers News-Press. Police have been called to break up disputes between supporters of two candidates for the District 6 seat on the Broward County School Board. The district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Incumbent Laurie Levinson is accusing Richard Mendelson’s supporters of calling her supporters murderers and invading their personal space. Mendelson says Levinson is wasting police time with false allegations. Sun-Sentinel.

No apology for you: Manatee County School Board member Charlie Kennedy tries but fails to elicit an apology from a peer in Sarasota who accused the district and two others of manipulating results from state civics exams. At a meeting of school boards from Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties, Sarasota board member Bridget Ziegler was asked to apologize for her accusations. Ziegler’s response, saying her accusation “was not specific to Manatee” and “it wasn’t stating that in fact happened,” angered Kennedy, who responded with a letter calling her a liar. Gradebook.

Personnel moves: Sandra Hurst, a social worker for the Hernando County School District, is named the district’s mental health coordinator. Hurst, 46, will monitor and track mental health screenings for students, coordinate with students’ doctors and keep a database of care providers. Gradebook.

Superintendent sued: Escambia County Superintendent Malcolm Thomas is being sued in federal court for discrimination by the former football coach at Escambia High School. Willie Spears was fired in 2014 for “gross insubordination” for disregarding the administration’s warning about using several players whose eligibility was in question. Spears, who is black, claims he was held to a different standard than white coaches. Pensacola News Journal.

Schools lose assistants: Twelve public service assistants have been removed from schools in St. Johns County by the sheriff’s office. Public service assistants are part-time workers who help direct traffic before and after schools. Sheriff’s spokesman Chuck Mulligan says traffic levels and staffing concerns prompted the decision. WJXT.

Principal criticized: A Manatee County School District investigation concludes that Southeast High School principal Rosa Faison showed poor judgment in allowing her husband on campus after he was fired from an after-school program, but she didn’t violate district policies. Wendell Faison had been banned from the campus after he was fired for making sexually inappropriate comments to a female student. Bradenton Herald.

District releases new app: The Leon County School District releases a new app that will allow parents and students to track grades, attendance, immunizations and more through their phones or tablets. The student information system, called FOCUS, will cost the district about $1.56 million over five years. Tallahassee Democrat.

Charges for teachers: A substitute teacher at Crystal Lake Middle School in Pompano Beach is arrested and accused of performing a sexual act on a 15-year-old student. Vernell Hicks was charged with three felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts, conduct and molestation. WPLG. Miami Herald. Fourteen new child molestation charges have been filed against a former charter school teacher in Cooper City. The new charges were lodged by four students against Christopher Falzone, who was arrested Aug. 13. Two students have filed lawsuits against the school, alleging negligence. Miami Herald.

Ex-teacher’s ominous video: A former Miami-Dade teacher posts a YouTube video saying he wanted “200-plus armored tanks to seize North Hialeah Elementary and Miami-Dade County Public School Board building.” Federal officials say they are searching for the ex-teacher, David Givens, who was fired from the school in 2014.  WSVN. Miami Herald. Sun-Sentinel.

Students arrested: A 15-year-old student at Nims Middle School in Tallahassee is arrested after a loaded gun and marijuana are found in his backpack. Deputies say there is no indication the student wanted to harm anyone at the school. WTXL. Tallahassee Democrat. Three students are arrested after a fight last week at Matanzas High School in Flagler County. Daytona Beach News-Journal. A 17-year-old student at the Baker School in Okaloosa County is arrested and accused of making threats on social media against another student. WEAR.

Opinions on schools: Hillsborough County School Board members are kidding themselves if they think the public trusts the district to manage even more money — and slapping together a last-minute, ill-defined tax proposal won’t build trust. Tampa Bay Times. The armed schools guardian program, as originally envisioned by the Legislature, is a flop. That doesn’t mean lawmakers need to reverse their law, but they do need to be more honest and realistic about future funding. John Romano, Tampa Bay Times. Dual-enrollment is a winning strategy for students and for Florida employers looking for skilled workers to help drive the economy into the future. Pam Forrester, Tallahassee Democrat.  There is no reason teachers shouldn’t be able to lock a gun in their car while it’s parked on a school campus. Charlie Strickland, Tallahassee Democrat.

Student enrichment: Lake Minneola High School receives a $66,963 grant from Niagara Bottling for its band program, and Fruitland Park Elementary School gets a check for $20,200 from Bless Fruitland Park to help fund technology upgrades. Daily Commercial.

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BY NextSteps staff