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PBC teachers reviewing books, Collier candidate wants school district taken over, and more

Around the state: Palm Beach County teachers have been told to review all their classroom books to make sure none have references to racism, sexism and oppression, a Collier County County Commission candidate is calling for the county to take over the school district and remove its “gay” superintendent, Gov. Ron DeSantis signs six military-related bills including one giving college tuition and fee waivers for disabled veterans and another helping children of military members with transitions to new schools, Santa Rosa County school officials are eliminating 3,500 bus stops this fall because of driver shortages, and Nassau County School Board members approve a resolution asking voters to pass an additional 1 mill in taxes in November for school employee raises. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: Thirty-seven county students, including 15 from American Heritage-Plantation, have been selected as winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities, ranging from $500 to $2,000 a year for up to four years. Sun-Sentinel. An 8th-grade student at Indian Ridge Middle School who made a series of threats against classmates and the school in the past two weeks has been disciplined, according to school officials who said they consulted with Davie police. “It was reported that a student did create a list. Administration, in collaboration with Davie police, investigated the matter… The student responsible for the threat received consequences commensurate with the district’s discipline matrix.” They did not elaborate. WPLG.

Palm Beach: District officials notified teachers on the last day of school that they had to review all the books in their classrooms to make sure none contained references to racism, sexism and oppression so they would comply with new state laws. Teachers have to fill out a questionnaire answering questions such as, “does a book encourage students to believe that people are racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously?” If the teacher answers “yes” or “unsure” to any of the questions, the book is removed for further review. School board member Erica Whitfield said the district is worried about being sued. “One of the biggest concerns through this process is understanding how best that we can follow the law, not end up being sued, hopefully,” she said. “That’s the goal we always have, is to be fiscally responsible.” WLRN. Forty-three county students, including 14 from Florida Atlantic University High School, have been selected as winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by U.S. colleges and universities, ranging from $500 to $2,000 a year for up to four years. Sun-Sentinel.

Duval: District students are being asked to not bring backpacks to summer school, as a security measure. Those who do must have clear or see-through mesh backpacks. Small purses and handbags are allowed, but will be searched. WJAX.

Polk: A national publication has recognized Haines City High School principal Adam Lane as one of three examples of how school leaders are trying to prevent bullying and how they’re responding to it when it does happen. Lane said reports of bullying are few, and he credits the adoption seven years ago of the positive behavior interventions and supports with expectations that are set for students and staff and celebrated with rewards when met. “What teacher doesn’t want to come work at a school where you’re constantly celebrating positive behavior?” said Lane. K-12 Dive.

Collier: A candidate for the Collier County Commission is calling for the county to take over management of the school district because it has been “infiltrated by weak leaders” who push a liberal agenda. Chris Hall, who is running for the District 2 seat that represents part of north Naples, also said, “As far as changes I want to make, I say let’s get the school board underneath county management. Our kids should not be subject to a gay superintendent enforcing their rights onto our children. Sex has no place in elementary schools. It has no place in our schools. Under county management we’d have some say so in that. Right now we don’t. So that is a recent change I would like to make.” District spokesman Chad Oliver said Hall’s claims are inaccurate, including his suggestion that Superintendent Kamela Patton is gay. “Mr. Hall’s disparaging comments are personally, educationally, and legally inaccurate. They are not deserving of further consideration or response. Dr. Patton’s record as superintendent speaks for itself.” Naples Daily News.

St. Johns: The Nease High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program has been named the most outstanding unit in the nation by the Naval Service Training Command. Last year the unit was rated the second-best in the country. “Our senior cadets provided unwavering leadership for our 200 cadet corps all year long,” said Capt. Scott LaRochelle, a senior science instructor. “Every single cadet from the decorated senior to the youngest freshman contributed to this award. They earned the right to be called best in the nation.” WJXT.

Marion: Some parents are unhappy that their children getting free meals from the school district this summer but being required to eat them where they pick them up. “That just doesn’t seem just very convenient in any way shape or form for parents,” said Ariel Bruns, who has two children in schools. District spokesman Kevin Christian said the district had no choice. “That’s a part of the requirement from the USDA for us to get reimbursed as a school district to participate in the program,” he said. WKMG.

Santa Rosa: District officials plan to eliminate 3,500 bus stops in the fall to improve route efficiency and deal with the continuing shortage of school bus drivers. As a result of eliminating 20 routes and all their stops, the distance students have to travel to get to their buses will increase. In some cases, elementary students would have to walk a half-mile to get to their stop, and many students in grades 6-12 will have to walk up to a mile. The changes are expected to save $2 million a year. Pensacola News Journal. WEAR.

Bay: More than 1,200 district students were referred for mental health treatment this past school year, according to Superintendent Bill Husfelt, who called it the most in the district’s history. In the past four years, students have had to cope with the effects of Hurricane Michael, the pandemic and whatever personal issues they have, and many have responded by acting out. “These behaviors and traumas manifest in many different ways,” said Deerpoint Elementary School social worker Ryan Roberts. “It can be temper tantrums, for example. Behavior regulation is something a lot of our younger students struggle with.” WMBB.

Charlotte: A community activist was found guilty Thursday of breaching the peace and disrupting an educational institution last summer. For three days last July, Andrew Sheets stood outside Sallie Jones Elementary School in Punta Gorda holding anti-abortion and anti-police signs that were often profane. As people walked by he would call them names that also included profanity, and got into shouting matches with parents as they dropped off their children. He was placed on 12 months of probation, with 100 hours of community service to be completed within the probationary period. Sheets, 57, plans to appeal. Charlotte Sun.

Nassau: School board members voted Thursday for a resolution that will ask voters in November to approve an extra 1 mill in property taxes so teachers can be paid more. The request for the referendum now goes to the county commission, which must approve its placement on the ballot. WJXT.

Levy: District teachers were on the other side of lessons recently when they received environmental education training from Project Learning Tree training, a national program helping teachers take environmental lessons into the classroom. “This is a way to incorporate the outdoors into the classroom that keeps the kids engaged. They gave tons of ideas we can bring back to the classroom,” said Shauna Deskins, a special education teacher at Yankeetown School. Levy Citizen.

Taylor: A teacher at a Christian school in Perry was arrested this week and accused of soliciting sex with a student. Deputies said Julie Hoover, 38, a teacher at Point of Grace Christian School, exchanged text messages about sex with an 18-year-old senior at the school in March and April. WCTV. WCJB.

Military bills signed: Gov. DeSantis signed six military-related bills Thursday. They included HB 45, which provides tuition and fee waivers at Florida colleges or career centers for disabled veterans; SB 430, which aims to “increase and enhance Florida’s efforts to make sure that the children of active duty service members are able to transition in terms of education appropriately with seamless school placement, enrollment, records transfer and verification of graduation authorities,” DeSantis said; and SB 896, which allows some service members to count their military experience in place of a college degree toward getting a temporary educator certificate. Associated Press. Northwest Florida Daily News. WKMG. WTXL. Florida Politics. Office of the Governor.

Around the nation: Members of the Uvalde, Texas, Police Department responding to a shooting at an elementary school May 24 delayed entering the school even after they were made aware that some victims in the building needed medical treatment, according to a report in the New York Times. The newspaper said new documents show that more than a dozen students were still alive for more than an hour before officers went into the classroom to confront the gunman. Associated Press.

Opinions on schools: The only way to become an intelligent critical reader is through early exposure with sophisticated literature that some folks don’t want you to read. It is even better when your exposure to those works comes to you with the guidance of a teacher or librarian who can help you understand. Roy Peter Clark, Tampa Bay Times. As we’re all debating the caliber of our teachers, and the caliber of weaponry they should be packing, I just want to make one small point about our educational system: I think that one of the things we should be teaching our kids in Florida is … the part of Florida that lies outside the classroom: the environment. Craig Pittman, Florida Phoenix.

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BY NextSteps staff