Sasse greeted at UF by protestors, more school reopenings scheduled, and more

Protests greet Sasse: Ben Sasse, the Republican U.S. senator from Nebraska and the sole finalist for the presidency of the University of Florida, was greeted by hundreds of protestors Monday when he visited the campus to meet with students and faculty. Sasse has drawn criticism for some of his political views, such as his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, and critics are questioning his qualifications to run UF since his academic administrative experience is limited to the presidency of a small religious college in Nebraska. At one of his town forums, Sasse said his goal is to create a “place of respect and inclusion for all Gators. … I’ve had political positions and policy positions that represent the views of Nebraskans. It’s a completely different job to have the job of president of UF. The president of UF’s job is to celebrate all of what’s going on in this community, and to be a storyteller and resource getter and salesman for it.” Associated Press. Gainesville Sun. Tampa Bay Times. WUFT. WCJB. Mainstreet Daily News. Inside Higher Ed. The chair of the UF presidential search committee, Rahul Patel, said Monday that committee members decided to advance Sasse as the only finalist because of his vision of higher education. “We needed somebody who was innovative and transformative and his ability to understand how the world is changing and how education needs to change to meet a changing world,” Patel said. WGFL.

Around the state: Broward Superintendent Vickie Cartwright is considered “effective” in her first evaluation by school board members, a judge has ordered the removal of a Pasco County school board candidate because he didn’t live in the district when he filed to run, south-county Sarasota schools will reopen next Monday, 19 of 21 Charlotte County schools will reopen next week, DeSoto will adopt a two-phase plan to reopen schools starting next week but possibly continuing into November, Pasco students will have to make up two of the four days lost to Hurricane Ian, Pinellas students won’t have to make up hurricane days, and Franklin County’s school superintendent is asking voters on Nov. 8 to renew one school levy and approve a new one. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: A former district teacher of the year was arrested last week in Broward County and accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old Connecticut boy he met online. Carlos Montero, 46, is a science teacher for grades 6-12 at the Scheck Hillel Community School in North Miami Beach. Police said the boy, now 18, wrote a college admission essay about the relationship, and his counselor reported it to the authorities. Montero faces charges of sexual assault on a minor, obscene communication use of a computer to seduce or solicit or lure a child, buying or selling minor information for sex purposes, and traveling to meet after using a computer to lure a child. WPLG. WSVN.

Broward: In their first evaluation of Superintendent Vickie Cartwright, school board members gave her an overall score of 3.2 on a 4-point schedule, which is considered effective. In her self-appraisal, she gave herself a 3.7. Board members praised Cartwright’s professionalism and said she has done a great job of being involved with the community. Sun-Sentinel. Prosecutors and the defense will each have two hours today to present closing statements in the sentencing trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer ruled Monday. She also told jurors to be prepared to begin deliberations Wednesday. WPLG. WSVN. WTVJ. Sun-Sentinel.

Hillsborough: A 14-year-old Stewart Middle School student was arrested Monday and accused of having a stun gun on campus. Police said a parent noticed the girl activating a stun gun that looked like a lipstick tube at a school bus stop. The parent called the school, and the girl was taken into custody when she got off the bus. WFLA.

Palm Beach: A former longtime substitute teacher for the district has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to possessing and distributing child pornography. Kemal Yaslowitz, 50, was arrested in April by the FBI, which said he had hundreds of pornographic photos and videos on electronic devices at his apartment, and that he shared 189 sexually explicit videos on social media that showed children being forced to have sex. Palm Beach Post.

Duval: School board members voted Monday to approve a state-required plan to reunite students and their families after school emergencies. H.B. 1421, which was approved by the Legislature this year and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, requires each school district to develop aa “family reunification plan” to efficiently get students together with their families after a school evacuation because of a disaster. WJXT.

Polk: Susan Searls of Davenport School of the Arts has been named Florida’s physical education teacher of the year at the middle school level by the Florida chapter of the Society of Health and Physical Educators. Polk County School District.

Pinellas: School officials said district students will not have to make up any instruction time lost when Hurricane Ian threatened the area, despite being closed four days. School board vice chair Lisa Cane said the district consulted with the state Department of Education and was told it had enough teaching time already built into the schedule to cover the missed days. St. Pete Catalyst. Tampa Bay Times.

Pasco: A judge has ruled that District 1 school board candidate Al Hernandez did not legally live in the district when he filed to run and, therefore, must be removed from the Nov. 8 ballot. A complaint about Hernandez’s residency was filed by Steve Meisman, who finished third to Hernandez and James Washington in the Aug. 23 primary. But Circuit Judge Susan Barthle denied Meisman’s request to be placed on the general election ballot against Washington, who said he will continue to campaign even though he is the apparent winner. Meisman said he would appeal the ruling leaving him off the ballot, and Hernandez, who was endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, could also appeal. Tampa Bay Times. District students will have to make up two of the four days lost when Hurricane Ian closed schools last month. Jan. 3 is one of the days, meaning students’ winter holiday will end a day early, and the second day will be made up Feb. 20, President’s Day, which had been scheduled as a holiday. Tampa Bay Times. Teachers and staff who were happy when they received raises that averaged 5.4 percent are now complaining because of a hike in health-insurance premiums. Teachers still have to ratify the agreement. Tampa Bay Times.

Collier: When district schools reopened last Thursday after being shuttered for Hurricane Ian, more than 93 percent of students showed up for classes. By the end of the week, attendance was more than 94 percent. Just before the storm closed schools, on Sept. 22, 95.11 percent of students attended classes. Naples Daily News.

Sarasota: District officials reported 93 percent attendance for the reopening of most north-county schools Monday, and said south-county schools, which suffered more damage in the storm, are on track to resume classes Oct. 17. At a press conference, Superintendent Brennan Asplen also said the district is now considering adding days to the end of the school year to make up for instructional time lost, and that teachers will assess students individually to decide on how to catch up on curriculum. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Charlotte Sun. WFLA. WTVT. WFTS. WWSB.

Escambia: School board members are considering a policy that could change the process for deciding which school library books will be available for “open or limited access” to students, and create a material reviews committee with at least one parent to recommend and approve instructional materials. Right now, parents can choose “open access, limited access or no access” to school library books for their children. WEAR.

Charlotte: Nineteen of the district’s 21 schools will reopen a week from today, district officials announced Monday. L.A. Ainger Middle School in Englewood is expected to reopen Oct. 24, and a return date for Port Charlotte Middle School students is expected to be announced later this week. Charlotte Sun.

Citrus: School improvement plans will be reviewed at today’s school board meeting. The plans identify the status of each school, areas that need improvement, and steps to take to achieve improvement. Citrus County Chronicle.

DeSoto: District officials have announced a plan to reopening schools in two stages. The first phase calls for Memorial Elementary, West Elementary, DeSoto Middle, DeSoto Secondary and DeSoto Virtual Academy to welcome students back Oct. 17. DeSoto County High and Nocatee Elementary, which were heavily damaged by the storm, would reopen sometime between Oct. 24 and Nov. 7. An update will be provided next week after further assessment. WINK. WFTX.

Franklin: Superintendent Steve Lanier is making community appearances to try to convince voters on Nov. 8 to approve the renewal of a half-mill property tax levy as well as a new half-cent sales tax levy to benefit schools. If passed, the sales tax would generate about $1.4 million a year that would be used for construction and to improve technology. The property tax is used for empoyee salaries and benefits, and other operating costs. Apalachicola Times.

Colleges and universities: New University of North Florida president Moez Limayem talks about his background and his goals for UNF. Florida Times-Union. The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity has been kicked off the University of Miami’s campus after allegations that some of its members spiked women’s drinks with drugs during a recent party at an off-campus house.​​ WPLG. WSVN. WTVJ. Miami Herald.

Opinions on schools: Free people with dynamic and pluralistic education systems will have a distinct advantage over states where lawmakers allow special interests to stymie progress. Look for family choice to become an important consideration in economic development in the years ahead. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED. The combination of parent demand, entrepreneurship and public policy will lead to the growth of more decentralized, bottom-up education options that will better serve families for years to come. Kerry McDonald, Washington Examiner. Let’s assume Ben Sasse gets the job as president of the University of Florida. He would be a splash hire, but is he the right hire? Joe Henderson, Florida Politics.

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BY NextSteps staff