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Arming teachers, security in schools, innovative job, top employee and more

Arming teachers: Osceola County School Board members vote unanimously against arming teachers under the school guardians bill approved by the Legislature in this year’s session. The law gives districts the option of allowing willing teachers to be armed after 144 hours of training. Board members also are encouraging the county’s charter schools to comply, but they are free to make their own decisions. Spectrum News 13. The Florida Democratic Party has launched an ad campaign meant to dissuade school districts with heavy minority populations from allowing teachers to be armed. Florida Politics.

Security in schools: The Broward County School Board makes changes in its criteria for hiring armed guardians. A requirement that guardians have either military or law enforcement experience is being revised to also allow applicants who have at least two years of experience as an armed security guard in the past decade. The changes also boost pay by giving guardians an extra eight days a year for training and by potentially hiring some guardians for summer school programs. Broward has 44 guardians, and five jobs are vacant. Sun Sentinel.

Innovative job description: The Florida Department of Education’s new chancellor for innovation, Eric Hall, has been given the duties of implementing and executing all assigned orders and priorities from the governor, Legislature and State Board of Education. That puts Hall on the point for such high-profile work as developing strategies for improving student outcomes, overseeing management of public schools and colleges, establishing and implementing policy development, and carrying out Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive orders on new academic standards for the state, early education accountability and workforce education. Gradebook.

Top school-related employee: All five finalists for the Florida school-related employee of the year award have been named by the Department of Education. They are: Anthony “Tony” Langhorne, who works in the transportation department for the Pinellas County School District; Heather Renfroe, a curriculum and technological paraprofessional at Lecanto Primary School in Citrus County; Bethany Lucas, a paraprofessional at Merritt Brown Middle School in Bay County; Daisy Rios, a secretary at Fellsmere Elementary School in Indian River County; and Jeremy Shaw, who works in user services for the Leon County School District. The winner will be announced today. Florida Department of Education. WMBB. Citrus County Chronicle. Pinellas County School District.

District’s motives questioned: An administrative hearing is considering whether the Sarasota County School District transferred a student with a learning disability into a program for students with severe cognitive disabilities in order to protect a school’s grade from the state. His mother is asking for damages that could total as much as $210,000. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Safety review planned: The Sarasota County School District, county commission, sheriff and municipalities agree to cooperate on a safety review of the routes students take to schools after a 9-year-old student on his bicycle was struck and killed by a driver in a pickup truck on Monday. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WTSP. WWSB.

Graduation rate up: Charlotte County school officials say the district’s graduation rate is now 87.6 percent, up from 81 percent last year. It’s better than the state average of 86.1 percent, and ranks 26th in the state. More than 900 county students will graduate in ceremonies this week. Charlotte Sun.

Student denied grad walk: A homeless student who was arrested for having a pellet gun at school for protection was denied a bid to take part in Jupiter High School graduation ceremonies. Instead, Drew Yarde will get his diploma in the mail. Palm Beach Post.

Districts’ finances: A recent analysis by the Florida Education Association concludes the Escambia and Santa Rosa school districts would lose $16.9 million and $3.4 million, respectively, in state funding over the next five years because of the new Family Empowerment Scholarship. The districts’ superintendents say they are more concerned with the lack of accountability for private schools than they are about the potential financial impact. Pensacola News Journal. Santa Rosa County school officials tell county officials they are reworking their request to impose impact fees on new construction to help pay for enrollment growth. Pensacola News Journal.

Arrested teacher blames DeSantis: A Pinellas County teacher arrested for taking a loaded gun and two knives to school tells a TV station to “Ask DeSantis, your governor” when she was asked why she took the weapons to Starkey Elementary School. School board member Eileen Long said, “If this was a political statement, she went about it all wrong.” Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher arrested: A Lake Worth Middle School teacher is arrested and accused of molesting a 14-year-old player on a Royal Palm Beach traveling soccer team he coaches. Richard A. Woolcock, 33, reported the arrest to the Palm Beach County School District and has been reassigned pending an investigation. Palm Beach Post. WPEC.

Students arrested: Two Broward County students are detained by Hollywood police officers after a BB gun is found in a backpack during a lockdown at South Broward High School. The lockdown was imposed during a fight when a student reported seeing a weapon. Sun Sentinel. Miami Herald. A 15-year-old student at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Pasco County is arrested and accused of threatening to shoot up the school. Deputies say he made the threat in a postcard to Santa dropped off at Macy’s. Tampa Bay Times. What happens to students who make threats to schools? TCPalm.

Students hurt in bus crash: Four Riviera Elementary School students were taken to a Brevard County hospital for treatment after their school bus was struck by a car Tuesday in West Melbourne. None of the injuries is believed to be serious. Florida Today.

Opinions on schools: The failures of the state’s pre-K programs are a sign of the Legislature’s contempt for constitutional amendments initiated by citizens and approved by voters. Orlando Sentinel. Gainesville already has a reputation as the place to be in Florida when it comes to getting a high-quality college or university education. Our community should become just as well-known for workforce training. Gainesville Sun. Giving students more educational options doesn’t hurt anybody else’s options, including the option of traditional public schools. Anybody who suggests otherwise is straying from the facts, and from a vision of public education that values equality of opportunity. Glenton Gilzean Jr., Orlando Sentinel. Why are parents leaving traditional public schools and “choosing” something else? Gil Smart, TCPalm. The recent spread of misinformation about education in our state is a disservice to our students and our teachers and misrepresents how far we’ve come in the past 20 years as a state and the investments we’ve made in our future. State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, Naples Daily News. Jeb Bush’s A+ Plan has resulted in a 20-year cycle of education policy by trial and error that has delivered teacher shortages and educational chaos. Sue Legg, Gainesville Sun. The poor, as a matter of both reason and justice, should be given the same educational options that, in theory, the Constitution guarantees to all of us. John E. Coons, redefinED.

Student enrichment: The six-student chess team from Joseph A. Williams Elementary School in Gainesville has won the K-5 title at the National Elementary School Chess Championship in Nashville. Gainesville Sun. Bella Liborio, a 12-year-old student at Princeton Elementary School in Orange County, is the only Florida student participating in the National Braille Challenge in Los Angeles this summer. WFTV.

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BY NextSteps staff