Around the state: The number of health screenings of students in Orange and Seminole counties has plummeted since the state passed a law requiring parents to give written permission for their children to take part in school-based screenings, a list of prohibited expenditures for schools in the state’s university system that has been drafted by the Florida Board of Governors includes any spending for diversity, equity and inclusion programs, Hillsborough is equipping all its buses with cameras that can catch drivers illegally passing stopped buses, Palm Beach’s school board chair pleads with the teachers union president to have teachers close and lock their doors for safety after he toured the Parkland school building where 17 people were shot to death in 2018, Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. urges unification of Florida’s education choice movement, and Flagler schools are replacing their bus fleet. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:
Miami-Dade: An office aide at Miami Killian Senior High School was arrested and accused of pursuing a romantic relationship with a 16-year-old student at the school. Vanessa Vigil, 35, was charged with battery and offenses against a student who also was an office aide. WPLG. WTVJ. A security guard at the Gan Frida School in North Miami Beach was arrested this week for violating his probation by carrying a gun on campus. Florida Highway Patrol troopers said Demetrius Lamarr Rice Jr., 26, is on felony probation for grand theft and his concealed weapons permit had been revoked. WPLG.
Hillsborough: Starting Jan. 8, all school buses transporting district students will be equipped with cameras that can catch drivers illegally passing stopped buses. “School buses are illegally passed while stopped three times, per bus, per day. This is absolutely unacceptable,” said interim superintendent Van Ayres. Cameras will be affixed to the flashing safety arms that extend and warn drivers to stop when the bus is picking up or dropping off students. The cameras cost about $10,000 per bus, but officials expect to more than cover the cost with $200 fines for drivers who pass stopped buses. WTSP. Spectrum News 9.
Orange, Seminole: Since the state passed a law requiring parents to give written permission for their children to take part in school-based health screenings, the number of screenings in Orange and Seminole counties has plummeted. Orange County screened almost 55,000 students for vision problems during the 2021-2022 school year but fewer than 14,000 students during the past academic year, a drop of nearly 75 percent. Seminole saw a decline from 18,000 students in 2021-2022 to 7,100 last year. Statewide data is not yet available. Orlando Sentinel. A barbering and cosmetology class at Lake Howell High School in Seminole County has become so popular in the decade since it was started as a one-semester class that it is now a four-year program and has a waiting list for admission. Students start by learning barbering and cosmetology concepts through textbooks, then work on mannequins before styling people. WKMG.
Palm Beach: After school board chair Frank Barbieri visited the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School building where 17 people were shot to death in 2018, he pleaded with the teachers union president to have teachers close and lock their doors for safety. “Every week, I hear from the (inspector general) that there are doors unlocked in our schools,” Barbieri said to union president Gordon Longhofer. “You need to tell the teachers to get their act together, because if that shooter got into those schools, he would just open the door and kill all the kids in the room.” Palm Beach Post. District officials have received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice that they are using over the next three years to fund a mentorship program called Check-In and Check-Out. Struggling students are paired with a trained school employee and check in a couple times a day to review what students are doing well and what they need to work on. WPEC. A school resource officer at Greenacres Elementary School has been fired by the sheriff’s office for allegedly stealing an eyeglass case from the school’s administrative offices. Deputy Daniel Golubovic had previously been suspended in April 2022 for shoplifting at a Home Depot near Lake Worth. He had been with the sheriff’s office for 36 years. WPEC.
Pinellas: The Seminole High School Warhawk marching band has been invited to perform in the 2025 Rose Bowl parade. It’s one of 22 U.S. bands chosen from 100 competing for a spot. Seminole’s band has previously marched in the parade in 2005 and 2018. WFLA.
Marion: The school district and the College of Central are partnering to create the CF Collegiate Academy early college enrollment magnet program, starting next fall. Ninth- and 10th-graders accepted into the program will complete their required high school courses, then become “fulltime dual-enrolled students at the CF Ocala campus or online in grades 11 and 12.” Superintendent Diane Gullett said, “The CF Collegiate Academy opportunity will allow students to choose the best pathway. A student may work toward an associate in arts for the college transfer pathway or students may choose the associate in science, which leads to a career upon completion.” Ocala Star-Banner.
Escambia: A $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense is headed to the district to start a five-year program called “Esports: E is for Everyone.” The program will “engage students in social-emotional learning and hands-on problem solving that will motivate, inspire and foster grit within our students,” said Monica Willis, the district’s grants specialist. It will be available for students at seven schools with military connections: Bailey, Beulah, Brown-Barge and Ransom middle schools; and Escambia, Tate and West Florida high schools. NorthEscambia.com. WEAR.
Flagler: Fourteen new buses will be headed to the district after the school board approved a $2.5 million lease-purchase. They replace a fleet of 2008 buses that have had increasing maintenance problems. The lease is for five years, and the district can use the payments to help pay for the buses, which cost $277,550 each. Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Colleges and universities: A list of prohibited expenditures for schools in the state’s university system that has been drafted by the Florida Board of Governors includes any spending for diversity, equity and inclusion programs. Those are defined as defined as “any program, activity, or policy that promotes differential or preferential treatment of individuals, or classifies such individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.” If the rule is approved by the BOG’s budget and finance committee Nov. 8, public comments will be taken for 14 days and it would go to the BOG for a final vote in late January. WUSF. Under a partnership with the Department of Children and Families announced Thursday, New College would hire people who are trying to transition off public assistance through the DCF’s Hope Florida program. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WTSP. Online voting is underway to select a new mascot for Florida State College at Jacksonville. There are 25 options to choose from until Nov. 10, and the three finalists will be chosen in January with a winner announced next spring or fall. FSCJ athletic teams have been called the BlueWave. Florida Times-Union.
Unifying school choice push: Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. is urging education leaders to unite the Sunshine State’s education choice movement by bringing together the state’s charter and private schools. “After the passage of H.B. 1, it is one movement,” Diaz said this week at the Florida Charter School Conference and School Choice Summit in Orlando, which was previously focused exclusively on charter schools. He also urged leaders from both charters and private schools to continue innovating and creating new and better learning opportunities for students. “Don’t make that mistake of becoming so mainstream that you become the status quo,” he said. reimaginED.
Around the nation: The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to make more funding available for wi-fi and hotspots on U.S. school buses. “We’re going to help close the homework gap and get more kids connected for school,” said FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel. “This is especially vital in rural areas where commutes to school are long and we all know broadband is not always available.” Politico.
Opinions on schools: You don’t have to be a non-existent professor of Marxism to be “woke” to the ongoing assault of decency with the appointment of Richard Corcoran as president of New College, and to the perversity of what constitutes being “a good fit” in public education these days in Florida. Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post.