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Student earns record-breaking GPA, yearbook debate, legislator tapped as president and more

Miami-Dade: Students in this district wrapped classes on Wednesday. While summer vacation is here, the district grappled with challenges during the school year that included a teachers union protest and figuring out compliance with new laws. “Connect and inspire, and to me, that’s what this school year was all about,” said Superintendent Dr. Jose Dotres at a news conference. WTVJ. Meanwhile, the state’s book rules are posing challenges for parents and educators. Miami Herald.

Palm Beach: The school board here meets about eight times per year to approve recommendations to expel students. At a meeting on Wednesday, nine students were expelled for a year. Seven of them brought weapons to campus.  This school year, Palm Beach County Schools voted to expel 42 students for weapons violations. That is double any other year in the past five school years. WPTV.

Pinellas: Officials in Pinellas school district have selected a developer to build teacher and staff housing in St. Pete. Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Seminole: The debate surrounding the Lyman High School yearbook seemed settled. But on Tuesday, about 100 people signed up to speak on the issue. Fox 35.

Manatee: The new schools superintendent here, Dr. Jason Wysong, officially signed his contract last week. He will begin the job July 1. The retiring superintendent is Cynthia Saunders. WWSB.

Collier: The hearing for Naples grocer Alfie Oakes’ lawsuit against the school board here was scheduled for Thursday. The suit claims the board and its search firm violated the Sunshine Law in the superintendent search. In the suit, filed May 17 with the Collier County Circuit Court, Oakes claims the school board allowed search firm Hazard Young Atea & Associates to select 10 candidates out of 45 privately, without public notice, comment or minutes. Fort Myers News-Press.

Alachua: Santa Fe College will start its own charter high school this August. The first cohort of 75 students has already been selected, coming from schools across Alachua County. The Academy of Science and Technology will serve high schoolers who want to pursue Career and Technical Education, or CTE, specifically in health sciences and information technology. Students will have the chance to graduate with their high school diploma, an associate of science degree and at least two industry certifications, all without debt. Main Street Daily News.

School safety: As politicians and activists push for limits on discussions of race, gender and sexuality, some students say the measures targeting aspects of their identity have made them feel less welcome in American schools. WUSF.

Hillsborough: Bhavya Bansal is celebrating both her Sweet 16 and being valedictorian this year, with a record-breaking 11.3 GPA. Her GPA is the highest in the 90-year history of Middleton High. She was also the first female to join the wrestling team. “That’s actually incredible; I’m so humbled and honored to be able to have that privilege to break that record,” said Bansal, whose academic ambition allowed her to skip ahead two years. Bhavya plans to attend Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland in the fall, and wants to be a surgeon. ABC Action News. WPLG.

Federal coordinator: President Joe Biden’s administration announced on Thursday several new protections for LBGTQ+ youth and families, including the position of a federal coordinator to counter book bans nationwide. The coordinator will train school districts and advise them that “book bans that target a specific community and create a hostile school environment may violate federal civil rights laws.” Florida Phoenix. NPR.

Textbook study: A study found that most textbooks don’t include key events in U.S. history that involve Latinos. NPR.

School year roundup: Educators shared the highlights from this school year, ranging from weird to inspirational. Education Week.

Mental health: Across the nation, about 2,600 health centers operated out of schools in 2017, which is more than twice the number that existed two decades earlier. Some 6.3 million students in more than 10,000 schools had access to the centers, according to the School-Based Health Alliance. School-based health centers offer free services, from flu shots and physicals to contraceptive care and talk therapy, that students can access without insurance or a doctor’s office trip. Many offer behavioral health care, which is increasingly in demand as the mental health challenges mount for students. Chalkbeat.

Career advice: The education job market is headed for a dramatic U-turn, with the hiring sprees of recent years headed to a screeching halt. In some areas, the reversal has already started, and districts are pulling down their “help wanted” signs. The 74th.

University and college news: State Rep. Fred Hawkins was selected Wednesday by South Florida State College trustees to succeed retiring school President Thomas Leitzel. Hawkins has served in the House since 2020, and was the lone finalist for the position. Details of his proposed contract won’t be available until a June 21 meeting of the trustees, officials said. Leitzel is set to retire at the end of June, and Hawkins is expected to take on the presidency on July 3, pending contract approval. Tampa Bay Times. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel.

Opinions on schools: If our true goal was to kindle fires in the minds of young people, how would we design learning environments? A few suggestions stem from the idea of agency, the inner will that separates humans from computers and other animal species. If students make a decision to learn, there’s nothing that can get in their way. And if they make a decision not to learn, there is very little that we can accomplish using carrots and sticks. Kelly Smith, reimaginED.

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BY Camille Knox