Around the state: Hillsborough Superintendent Addison Davis is resigning and moving back to northeast Florida, Broward school board members hire a regional superintendent from neighboring Palm Beach County as the district’s next superintendent, the College Board is refusing Florida’s request to delete LGBTQ material from its Advanced Placement psychology course, Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the $116.5 billion budget after vetoing about $511 million in projects, Charlotte County’s school board approves a proposal to participate in the state’s school guardian program, and a Manatee County teacher explains her decision to resign to the school board. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
Miami-Dade: The school board will consider a proposal next week to extend the contract of Superintendent Jose Dotres through June 2027. It was set to expire next June. If the proposal is approved by the board, Dotres would be required to extend his membership in the state’s Deferred Retirement Option Program, which state lawmakers recently amended to allow for a participation period of 96 months instead of 60. Dotres replaced Alberto Carvalho on Feb. 14, 2022, after serving in the district in several administrative roles. “We’ve seen the ebbs and flows around the state (and) I think the stability of this organization is critically important,” said board member Steve Gallon III, referring to the 61 of 67 school districts across the state facing superintendent discussions. “It’s difficult to get the right person … Dotres is the right person.” Miami Herald.
Broward: Peter Licata, a regional superintendent for Palm Beach County schools, has been chosen as the Broward school district’s next superintendent. School board members voted 7-2 for Licata on Thursday, with the other two votes going to Sito Narcisse, superintendent of East Baton Rouge (La.) School District. The third finalist was Detroit deputy superintendent Luis Solano. Licata, 59, was born in Broward County and has spent the past 29 years as an administrator in neighboring Palm Beach County. “This is a dream job. I’m coming home,” Licata said. “We get one shot and this, and I’m not spending it on the sidelines.” He said he intends to improve the nation’s sixth-largest school district’s B grade from the state into an A. Contract negotiations will be held June 21 and 22. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. WPLG. WLRN. WSVN. WFOR. WTVJ. WPTV.
Hillsborough: Superintendent Addison Davis announced Thursday that he was resigning, effective July 14, after 39 months on the job. In his resignation letter, Davis said, “This is one of the most difficult decisions that I have ever had to make as our work in (Hillsborough County Public Schools) is not done. With this said, I have the opportunity to return to northeast Florida where my entire family resides. As (the district) moves toward finding the next educational leader, my hope is that each school board member will seek to hire a leader that has the skill set to build upon the educational foundation that has been established during my tenure.” Davis, 47, was the superintendent in Clay County before moving to Hillsborough just as the pandemic set in, and there have been reports that he could be interested in the Duval County superintendent’s job, which recently opened when Diana Greene retired. Davis had some successes in Hillsborough, such as cutting the number of D and F schools from 28 to 14 by 2022, but his management style has been criticized and he was unable to persuade voters to pass a local tax to raise teacher salaries. Tampa Bay Times. WJXT. WUSF. WFLA. WTSP. WTVT. WFTS. WWSB. Spectrum News 9.
Palm Beach: The former Lake Worth Middle School principal who had a verbal confrontation with a woman in a school parking lot after a minor traffic accident in March has been suspended without pay for 10 days. Michael Williams, 52, who had been the principal at Lake Worth Middle School, told school board members this week that he “reacted with emotion” after being called the N-word by the woman. If Williams serves the suspension, he will return to work as a principal in an alternative education school starting Aug. 2. Palm Beach Post. A teacher who was investigated in Broward County for making sexual remarks to students but then hired at a Palm Beach County charter school was fired in May after “inappropriate” photos were discovered on his school-issued iPad. Willie Holmes Jr. was hired as a language arts teacher by the Somerset Academy Canyons charter school in Boynton Beach last October, just months after the Broward County School Board heard his disciplinary case. Sun-Sentinel. Lake Worth Community High School math teacher Cary Altschuler was fired for comparing students’ skin tones to different types of coffee. Altschuler admitted to principal Elena Villani that “he did things that he should not have,” she said. “He does not deny joking with students about skin tones.” WPTV.
Pinellas: Nineteen schools are scheduled to have new principals when schools reopen in August, district officials announced Thursday. Among them is Lakewood High in St. Petersburg, whose leadership was strongly criticized recently by prominent black activist Goliath Davis for having too many seniors unprepared to graduate. Conneisha Garcia, principal at Lealman Innovation Academy since 2016, will replace Erin Savage as the Lakewood High leader, and Savage will be reassigned. Tampa Bay Times.
Manatee: An English teacher at Southeast High School recently resigned, adding her name to the list of more than 5,000 teaching positions now open in the state. But Heather Felton, 48, didn’t go quietly. Instead she signed up to speak at a school board meeting, where she told board members, “It will take true leadership at the state level and a change in the culture of hate and division that has permeated Florida and this country,” she said. Book bans and restrictions, the feeling of being unvalued and unheard, the fear of being charged with a felony for teaching the wrong thing, her pay, and the treatment of LGBTQ students and adults were among the reasons she said she couldn’t stay. No one thanked her for her service or her thoughts when she finished. Felton said she will now become an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights for her kids and Florida’s future. And, she says, she can finally say what she thinks. Tampa Bay Times.
Okaloosa: School board member Tim Bryant has been chosen as president-elect of the Florida School Boards Association for the 2023-2024 term. The FSBA is a nonprofit corporation representing elected school boards in Florida. Get the Coast.
Charlotte: A program to place armed guardians in district schools was approved this week by the school board. The program places trained, armed personnel who are not law enforcement officers in schools for added protection. They can be school employees who volunteer for the added responsibility or people who are hired as guards. New Superintendent Mark Vianello said the district is already working with the sheriff’s office on the details. WFTX.
Levy: Joshua Slemp, who was the principal at the Cedar Key School from 2016-2018, is returning to take over for the retiring Kathy Lawrence. Slemp, who had been the princial at Williston Middle-High, begins work July 1. Levy Citizen.
Colleges and universities: New College of Florida faculty’s recent letter of censure against trustees was unfounded, concluded an investigation by the school administration. The faculty had argued that board members “failed in their fiduciary duties of first: caring for the institution’s reputation and for student, faculty, and staff well-being; and second: endangering the College’s ability to fulfill its mission…” and criticized the board’s handling of input from the public, the selection of Richard Corcoran as interim president, a no vote on tenure for several faculty members and other issues. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Scott Angle, the senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Florida, has been named interim provost by President Ben Sasse. Angle will assume the role when Joseph Glover steps down next month. WUFT. Gainesville Sun.
DeSantis signs budget: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a $116.5 billion state budget Thursday that includes $26.8 billion for education and $350 million set aside to cover potential overruns in spending for the new universal school choice law. Also being approved was $50 million for the continued transformation of New College of Florida and $75 million for a University of Florida health campus in Jacksonville. Vetoed were $511 million in mostly local projects, including $18.4 million for Polk State College, $34 million for an STEAM complex at St. Johns State College, $20 million for a nursing school at University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus. $11 million for an Academic and Research Center at UF, and $11.2 million earmarked for a Student Achievement Center at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. USA Today Florida Network. Orlando Sentinel. TCPalm. CNN. Florida Politics. Tampa Bay Times. Tallahassee Democrat. Pensacola News Journal. Florida Today. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Daytona Beach News-Journal. WKMG.
College Board rebuffs Florida: The College Board has refused a request from Florida to drop gender-related topics from its Advanced Placement psychology course. “Please know that we will not modify our courses to accommodate restrictions on teaching essential, college-level topics,” the group wrote to state officials. “Doing so would break the fundamental promise of AP: colleges wouldn’t broadly accept that course for credit and that course wouldn’t prepare students for success in the discipline.” The decision could lead the state to drop the course, which was taken by nearly 30,000 Florida students in 2020. Earlier this year, the organization made changes to an African-American studies course after the state rejected it, was criticized for bowing to pressure and then said it would make further changes. Board officials said they learned from the “mistakes” made in that incident, and didn’t want to create a similar controversy now. Politico Florida. Tampa Bay Times. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Orlando Sentinel. New York Times. Education Week.
Florida’s student debt: Almost 3 million Floridians owe $105.1 billion in student loan debt, the third highest total in the nation after California and Texas. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court approves the Biden administration’s plan to forgive $400 billion in debt, interest will start accruing on the outstanding balances and payments will resume in October after being suspended for three years. USA Today Florida Network.
Opinions on schools: The next school year in Hillsborough County would have been difficult enough had Superintendent Addison Davis and his team remained. The next superintendent and the school board need to recognize that legacy bureaucracies like Hillsborough face unique challenges from an education market that’s evermore nimble, an unvarnished understanding of the district’s weaknesses and strengths, from its finances to its academics, and an appreciation for the broad diversity of people the school system serves. Tampa Bay Times. The process for designing, testing, fielding, and building buy-in for high-school-first industry recognized credentials will be very different from existing standards. Modern tools allow us to move beyond those limitations, work better, and will draw broader acceptance. Ed Jones, reimaginED.