Court rejects request for quick review, big pay boost, books removed, public comments and more

No quick decision: An appeals court has rejected a request by school boards to quickly address their challenge to the state’s rule forbidding them from imposing face mask mandates on students. An administrative law judge ruled against the boards last week, and the 4th District Court of Appeal has rejected the boards’ request to “expedite” consideration of the case. It did not provide a reason for the decision. Since the decision last week, all school boards in the state are either complying with the state rule or plan to very soon. News Service of Florida.

Around the state: The Gadsden County School Board is considering an 18 percent hike in the starting teacher salary, four books have been removed from Flagler County school libraries after a school board member questioned them, more relaxed face mask policies go into effect today in the Miami-Dade and Alachua school districts, Volusia school officials are proposing changes in what public speakers can say at school board meetings, parents and school advisers say the Seminole County School District’s practice of putting more information than is necessary on transcripts for college applications is putting students at a disadvantage, and Palm Beach County school officials are warned by legislators against teaching critical race theory. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: The school district’s new face mask policy goes into effect today. Parents can now sign an opt-out form so their children won’t have to wear masks in school. The forms are available at schools or on the district’s website. WSVN.

Palm Beach: District officials were warned this week during a meeting with the legislative delegation against teaching critical race theory in schools. Superintendent Michael Burke assured the legislators that it was not part of any school’s curriculum, but state Rep. Rick Roth, R-West Palm Beach, said he’s heard otherwise. “I’m just saying as a friendly warning that I have friends that are … requesting books and requesting materials or going to public school libraries,” Roth said. He added that the district will be asked to prove that CRT and “gender fluidity” are not being taught. Florida Politics.

Lee: A 14-year-old student at Riverdale High School in Fort Myers and his 48-year-old father were arrested this week after the boy allegedly took an unloaded gun to school. The boy said he brought his father’s gun to school to scare a student who had attacked his friend. His father was arrested after deputies discovered he’s a convicted felon and not legally allowed to have guns. WBBH.

Seminole: Students, parents and school advisers say the school district’s practice of putting more information than is necessary on transcripts for college applications is putting students at a disadvantage. The transcripts include a student’s classes, GPA, and the scores for every standardized test they’ve ever taken. “I feel like there is no good reason to have scores on a transcript,” said Allison Slater Tate, the director of college counseling at Lake Mary Prep. “Florida public school students are at a disadvantage because private school students don’t have them on their transcripts.” District officials said they are reconsidering the practice. WKMG. A school district delivery driver was shot Thursday at a gas station after arguing with another driver. Police said the district employee, 23-year-old Maurice Holloway, was verbally threatening the man, who pulled a gun and shot Holloway several times because, he said, he feared for his life. Holloway was hospitalized and is in critical condition. Sanford police didn’t release the name of the gunman because the shooting appears to be a “stand your ground” case. Orlando Sentinel. WKMG. WOFL. WFTV. WESH.

Volusia: School board members are considering changing the rules of decorum for public commenting at board meetings. Speakers would be prohibited from addressing individual board members, discussing ongoing litigation or disciplinary issues, using profanity and personal attacks, clapping and heckling, talking on the phone in the board room, and the chair would have the authority to cut off speakers who violate the policy and call in law enforcement to remove them. The changes will be discussed again in January. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Marion: The district’s School Choice Expo is scheduled next Thursday in the West Port High School gym. Information about all the district’s choice options, including career and technical academies and magnet programs, will be available. School choice applications must be filed by Jan. 31. WCJB.

Alachua: Starting today, parents will be allowed to submit opt-out forms so their children can attend public schools without a face mask. The change in policy is in place until after the winter break, when masks become optional for all students. WUFT.

Indian River: Bruce Green, a former assistant school superintendent, has announced he’s running for the District 1 school board seat held by Mara Schiff. Green, 51, resigned in 2018 and for the past three-plus years has been the general manager of Premier Landscape Solutions in Vero Beach. Vero News.

Charlotte: Only school district workers who are vaccinated will be eligible for $1,250 of medical insurance assistance, according to an agreement between the district and the school employees’ union. The money is part of the deductible that must be met before the policy begins to pay off the employee’s medical bills. The change is effective just for 2022. Charlotte Sun.

Citrus: The number of student and employee COVID-19 cases in the school district continues to decline. District officials reported 846 cases in August and 524 in September but only 48 in October. Quarantines are also down significantly. The peak was Aug. 26, with 1,922 students and employees in isolation. On Oct. 26, there were only five. Citrus County Chronicle.

Flagler: Four books have been removed from several school district libraries pending a review of their content after school board member Jill Woolbright complained about them to Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt. The critically acclaimed books address racism, the shooting of an unarmed black teenager, the rape of a teen girl, and the experiences of a person growing up black and queer. Woolbright said some of her constituents have raised concerns about the books. Flagler Live.

Gadsden: Next Tuesday, the school board will consider approving a tentative agreement between the district and the teachers union to boost starting teacher pay from $38,115 to $45,000, an increase of 18 percent. District officials said it “would be the most significant pay increase in the history of the district.” If it’s approved, the raises will appear in paychecks in December or January. WTXL. Gadsden County School District.

Colleges and universities: Florida State University’s Board of Trustees are considering ending several degree programs: bachelor’s in early childhood education, master’s in nursing, master’s in history and philosophy of science, and master’s and doctorate in interdisciplinary humanities. Florida Politics. Three University of Central Florida fraternities have been suspended for their involvement in a brawl at a homecoming tailgate party that was captured on video and went viral. WKMG. WOFL.

Diversifying Catholic schools: LaTonya White, principal of the St. Peter Claver Catholic School in Tampa, talks about her background, her goals for the school and her belief that Florida scholarship programs should be marketed to potential student benefactors across broad and diverse income levels. reimaginED.

Opinions on schools: Naming Florida’s K-12 scholarships for Mary McLeod Bethune would be a fitting tribute to the Daytona Beach educator who initially served a student population very similar to Florida’s first school choice scholarship recipients. William Mattox, Florida Politics. If it is true that all students learn differently and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and I believe it is, doesn’t it follow that educators and leaders should provide multiple learning avenues to give students and families options when one model fails to support a student’s progression? Julie Young, The 74.  If we expect civic leadership from our students at the University of Florida, we must expect it from the highest levels of the university and the state of Florida. Matt Jacobs, Tampa Bay Times. There has never been a bigger disconnect between the real educators, who work every day, and the real shareholders – students – than there is now. Michael Fleming, Palm Beach Post. Are the Moms for Liberty targeting pornography in school libraries, or books showing diversity, or both? Laurence Reisman, TCPalm. Recent rule changes affecting students with special needs must be re-evaluated by the state. Tampa Bay Times.

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BY NextSteps staff