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Superintendent put on notice, adjunct teachers, contract agreements and more

Bowden put on notice: Sarasota County School Board members vote 4-1 to give Superintendent Todd Bowden the required 30-day notice that they intend to reprimand, suspend him without pay or fire him for his handling of sexual harassment allegations against the district’s former chief operating officer. The board will meet Dec. 10, and a supermajority vote by board members will be needed to discipline Bowden. Before the vote, the board rejected Bowden’s offer to resign if he was given a 10-year contract to be executive director of facilities. A law firm hired by the board to investigate the sexual harassment incident concluded that Bowden didn’t respond appropriately when former COO Jeff Maultsby’s assistant filed a complaint. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WWSB.

Adjunct teachers: One of the rules the Florida Board of Education will consider adopting at its Nov. 15 meeting would allow the state’s school districts to hire fulltime, nonunion but qualified adjunct teachers for up to three years. Districts have been allowed to hire part-time adjunct teachers, but the law was expanded in the last legislative session as one of the solutions to the teacher shortage. Anyone with a valid fulltime or part-time adjunct certificate would be eligible to fill such a position. Gradebook.

Contract negotiations: Bay County school teachers will get 3 percent raises and bonuses between $500 and $1,500 under a tentative contract agreement reached Monday. The proposed deal must be approved by the union and the school board. Panama City News Herald. The Manatee County School District and the teachers union reach a tentative contract deal that addresses advancement on the salary scales for teachers and paraprofessionals, small cost-of-living adjustments and no increase in health insurance premiums. Bradenton Herald.

School shooting: FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday at a Senate committee hearing that two employees were disciplined for not passing along a tip about the possibility of a school shooting 40 days before it happened in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It’s the first time the FBI has acknowledged that employees were held accountable for mishandling the Parkland school shooting tips. “I can tell you that there were two individuals principally involved with the call,” Wray said. “We had one individual that’s been reassigned as a result of that inspection report and one who is, I guess the best way to put it, is no longer with the FBI.” Miami Herald.

Superintendent search: The three finalists for the Volusia County school superintendent’s job will attend a community meeting Thursday and then be interviewed by the school board Friday. On Nov. 12, the board is scheduled to vote for its choice. The finalists are Ronald Fritz, chief of staff for teaching, leading and learning in Osceola County; Peter Licata, a Palm Beach County regional superintendent; and David Moore, an assistant superintendent in Miami-Dade. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Charter expansion: The oldest charter school in Pasco County has plans to expand its enrollment by 33 percent for the 2020-2021 school year. Dayspring Academy, which received more than 3,000 applications for seats last year, would jump from 900 students to 1,200 and put them in two locations donated by community organizations. Because Dayspring is considered “high performing” by the state and the space has been made available, the school board must approve the expansion. Gradebook.

Importing teachers: The Hernando County School District has added eight teachers from around the world this year through the TPG Cultural Exchange, a U.S. Department of State program that recruits teachers internationally. District officials say the new hires help the students and the district, but also provide new perspectives for their colleagues. “I think it’s powerful for a bunch of math teachers from the United States to hear the perspective of two math teachers from Jamaica,” said Michael Maine, who heads the district’s recruitment. The eight new hires are from the Philippines, Ghana, Jamaica and India. Tampa Bay Times.

Vaccination spat: Duval County School Board chair Lori Hershey tweeted a correction to a Jacksonville City council member’s Twitter message saying that “Duval is at 54% of the state’s 95% vaccination goal. We have to do better.” Council member Leanna Cumber was referencing a story that said, as Hershey quickly responded, that the story said only 54 percent of the county’s schools meet the state’s 95 percent vaccination goal, not that the school district’s overall vaccination rate is 54 percent. Florida Times-Union.

Medical marijuana in schools: The Collier County School Board will vote next week on a policy change that would allow students with prescriptions to receive medical marijuana treatment at schools. Under the policy, a parent or caregiver would have to bring the medication to the school, administer it in a designated room, then take the drug off-campus. Naples Daily News.

School gets named: Lee County School Board members unanimously vote to name the district’s new school Gateway High School. Ground-breaking is set Nov. 13 and the school is expected to open in August 2021, although its first students will attend classes next year in portable classrooms. Fort Myers News-Press.

Charter’s contract approved: The Okaloosa County School Board has approved the contract for a proposed charter high school in Destin. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Open enrollment: Brevard County’s six schools that can accept students through open enrollment are taking applications for the 2020-2021 school year through Dec. 2. Florida Today.

Personnel moves: Gray Smith is installed as the eighth head of school for the private Gulf Stream School in Palm Beach County. Palm Beach Post.

Notable deaths: MaryAnne Hedrick, a former Lake Worth Middle School physical education teacher who continued to work and raise money for charitable groups after being paralyzed in a car accident, has died at the age of 62. Palm Beach Post.

Whistleblower case settled: The Flagler County School Board agrees to settle a lawsuit by paying a former teacher $30,000 and ordering an investigation into the disciplinary process at Flagler Palm Coast High School. The teacher, Robert Sprouse, claimed his contract was not renewed because of his warnings to administrators about the bullying and harassment of students by school officials. Flagler Live.

School employees arrested: A Broward County school resource officer has been arrested and accused of child abuse for slamming a child to the ground, according to deputies. Broward deputy Willard Miller, 38, was filmed grabbing a 15-year-old girl by the throat at Cross Creek School in Pompano Beach on Sept. 25, throwing her to the ground, handcuffing her and then pushing her into a room. Miller has been suspended without pay. Sun Sentinel. Miami Herald. The principal of Archbishop McCarthy High School in Broward County has been arrested and accused of domestic violence. Police say Richard Pierre Jean, 50, attacked a man in his house around 2 a.m. Tuesday. He’s been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation. Sun Sentinel. Miami Herald.

Ex-administrator sentenced: A former Pasco County assistant principal has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for sexually abusing a teenage boy and possessing pornographic images of him. Kyle Ritsema, 37, was working at Cypress Creek Middle-High School in Wesley Chapel when he was arrested in 2018. He pleaded guilty to the charges. Tampa Bay Times.

School safety officer fired: A Duval County school safety officer has been fired for allegedly threatening a student with a fake gun. The school board agreed to fire Joshua Gwynes, 31, for “misconduct.” In April, he reportedly pointed a realistic-looking but fake pistol to the head of a Ribault High School student with special needs. Florida Times-Union. WJAX. WJXT.

Teachers and the law: A Pinellas County teacher was arrested after allegedly arriving intoxicated at Skyview Elementary School in Pinellas Park. Lisa Edelstein, 55, is charged with disorderly conduct. She had been working just a week, and has been fired by the district. WFLA. Patch. A former teacher at Spanish River High School in Palm Beach County is being sued for allegedly sexually abusing two students in the 1980s at a Catholic school in Buffalo, N.Y. Dianna Vacco was a science and theater teacher at Spanish River from 1999 until her retirement in 2017. Palm Beach Post.

Students and the law: A 13-year-old Pasco County student is arrested after threatening to shoot a teacher at the James Irvin Education Center after she kicked him out of class for pulling down his pants. Miami Herald.

Opinions on schools: The Broward County School District keeps flunking Construction 101. It should look to the Palm Beach district to see how schools are built. Randy Schultz, Sun Sentinel. What happens to school-age children when they are involuntarily committed under the Baker Act. Gil Smart, TCPalm. Having Bible classes in public schools is another legislative idea that should not come to pass. Joe Henderson, Florida Politics. Education savings accounts are helping students from all walks of life succeed in schools. Jonathan Butcher, redefinED.

Student enrichment: Eight-year-old Lexi Savino, a student at Grace Christian School in Ocala, dressed as a McDonald’s order of french fries for Halloween to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House. Ocala Star-Banner. Santa Rosa County principal B.J. Price spent the night on the roof of West Navarre Primary School after his students met their fund-raising goal of $30,000. WEAR. A six-minute movie made during a competition in New York City by film production students from Nature Coast Technical High School in Hernando County. Dismal State of Mind, is now available for viewing on YouTube. Tampa Bay Times.

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BY NextSteps staff