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Florida schools roundup: Mental services deal, private schools and more

Mental health services: The mental health provider that determined accused Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz shouldn’t be Baker Acted in 2016 has been hired by the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools to provide mental health services for students at their schools. Henderson Behavioral Health will provide assessments, diagnoses, interventions, treatment and recovery services for students in the 500 state charter schools that belong to the consortium. Henderson has been criticized for recommendation to not hospitalize Cruz after a suicide assessment, and is being sued for wrongful death by the parent of a student who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Miami Herald.

Private school safety: Private schools are safer for students than public schools, according to a report published recently in the Journal of School Choice. Researchers Danish Shakeel and Corey DeAngelis say students at private schools were 8 percent more likely to have never experienced physical conflicts, 28 percent more likely to have never experienced another student possessing a weapon on campus, and 13 percent more likely to have never experienced racial tension between students. redefinED.

School bus problems: The Marion County School Board is considering ways to replace 150 aging school buses that don’t have air-conditioning. The buses are all 15 years old and are prone to breakdowns. The estimated cost for the buses is $16 million, and board members are asking district officials to research options such as borrowing the money and repaying it over five or 10 years. Ocala Star-Banner.

Education and politics: Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis talks about charter schools, civics education, Common Core standards and state testing in a Q&A. Tampa Bay Times. Reporters take a closer look at the education platforms of Florida gubernatorial candidates Andrew Gillum, the Democrat, and Republican Ron DeSantis. Gradebook.

Teacher honored: Kristen Frazer, the physical education department chairwoman at Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Boynton Beach, is named Florida’s middle school physical education teacher of the year by the Society of Health and Physical Educators. Sun-Sentinel.

Turnaround schools: While Manatee County school officials are optimistic that Daughtrey and Rogers-Garden elementary schools can boost their grades and avoid falling under the state’s turnaround program, they’re also making plans on what’s next if the schools don’t get grades of C or better from the state. Pamela Craig, director of school improvement, says the district is likely to hire an outside operator for the schools instead of closing them or turning them into charter schools. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Charter school opening: A delay in construction forced students of a Pasco County charter school into temporary classrooms when schools opened in August. Now, officials of Plato Academy Trinity are telling students and their parents that it wants to open its new site Oct. 1. Gradebook.

Innovative education: About 60 students, most of them 9th-graders, are presented with hands-on projects and real-life problems at the new PSI (Problem Solving Incubator) High located inside Seminole High School in Sanford. Orlando Sentinel. Three innovation rooms are created for students at the Palmer Trinity School to promote creativity, problem-solving and interdisciplinary skills. Miami Herald.

School’s water cleared: Polk County school officials say the most recent tests at the Winston Academy of Engineering show no lead contamination in the water supply. “The school has been cleared to use regular water for drinking and cooking; bottled water will no longer be provided,” according to a letter district officials sent to parents. Lakeland Ledger.

Pill for concussions: A medical marijuana pill to treat high school football players with concussions is being studied at the University of Miami’s Sports Medicine Institute concussion program. The program also trains team trainers how to diagnose and treat concussions. WLRN.

Age discrimination suit: Former Leon County School District director of maintenance Stephen Shelton files a lawsuit against the district and Superintendent Rocky Hanna, alleging age discrimination and political retaliation. Shelton was 66 when he was not retained for the 2017-2018 school year. “The Leon County School Board fired Mr. Shelton. He believes it was because of his age and because of his support of former Superintendent of Schools (Jackie) Pons during his campaign against Rocky Hanna,” says Ryan Hobbs, one of Shelton’s lawyers. Tallahassee Democrat.

Ex-teacher convicted: James Frederick Beaver Jr., 54, a former teacher of disabled children at Mendez Exceptional Center in Tampa, is convicted of multiple counts of sexual battery against a mentally disabled man in 2017. Sentencing is Nov. 1. Tampa Bay Times.

Substitute teacher arrested: A substitute teacher at a Hollywood charter school is arrested and charged with sexual battery on a minor and lewd or lascivious battery on a minor. Police say Roman Jose Fondon Jr., 28, who was working at Ben Gamla Preparatory Academy, was having sex with a 15-year-old student last spring. WPLG. Miami Herald. Sun-Sentinel.

Teacher disciplined: A 4th-grade special education teacher at West DeFuniak Elementary School in Walton County is disciplined by the state for giving students the answer to a question on a Florida Standards Assessments math exam last year. Gina Ealum’s teaching certificate has been suspended for six months and she’ll be on probation for two years after she returns to teaching. Northwest Florida Daily News.

School volunteer arrested: A volunteer at Callahan Middle School in Nassau County is arrested and accused of exchanging nude photos and videos with a 14-year-old student. Ligia Roth, 39, is charged with possession of child pornography. WJAX. WJXT.

Sex offender arrested: A 31-year-old man on sex offender probation is arrested when he tried to pick up a child at East Marion Elementary School in Silver Springs. An arrest warrant had been issued for Brian Patrick Mullis for failure to appear in court for a probation violation after he was charged with soliciting a Jacksonville child on a computer. Ocala Star-Banner.

Student attacks aides: A high school student at Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center in Jacksonville attacks and beats one classroom aide and stabs another in the head with a pen during a music class Thursday. The stabbed aide was taken to a hospital for treatment. Florida Times-Union.

Students arrested: A 15-year-old Gibbs High School student is arrested for stabbing a 16-year-old classmate in the back at a school bus stop. Police say the girls have been involved in an ongoing disagreement that escalated Thursday morning. Tampa Bay Times. WFTS. A 13-year-old student at Piedmont Lakes Middle School in Orange County is arrested and charged with felony battery after allegedly choking a classmate and slamming him to the ground during a physical education class, fracturing his skull. Orlando Sentinel. Three Apopka High School students are arrested after a shootout just after school let out. Police say the two shooters were fighting over a girl. All three were arrested. WFTV.

Opinions on schools: Poets from Joanna Fox’s creative writing program at Sarasota Booker Middle School create on-the-spot, personalized poems from the Dragonfly Cafe. Consider it a community gift from the creative crowd. Carrie Seidman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Student enrichment: Eighth-grader Julie Michael is in advanced classes at Seven Springs Middle School in Pasco County, plays in the advanced band, and also handles the kicking chores for the school football team. She’s the only girl on the team and just the third in the school’s history. Tampa Bay Times. A Palmetto Bay street is named after Jaime Gough, who was murdered by a classmate 14 years ago in a bathroom stall at Southwood Middle School. Miami Herald. Apalachee Elementary School in Leon County gets a $10,000 donation from Burlington Stores for its magnet school of the arts. WFSU.

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BY NextSteps staff