Miami-Dade board wants land deal reversed, St. Lucie speaking time kept, FSU dumps DEI, and more

Around the state: Miami-Dade’s school board will try to overturn a City Commission vote that gave a private school part of a park the district wanted to expand a public school, St. Lucie County School Board members put a pause on a proposal to limit speaking time by the public at board meetings, Florida State University eliminates its DEI programs but is reassigning employees instead of laying them off, Brevard school board members revise 124 district policies to bring them in compliance with state law, a charter school network with schools in Florida is now under state supervision in Texas after improprieties were discovered, and the U.S. House votes to ban TikTok unless the Chinese owner sells it. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Miami-Dade: School board members agreed Wednesday to try to overturn a City Commission vote that gave a private school the right to develop part of Biscayne Park in Edgewater. The school district had a plan with the commission, years in the making, to expand the public school iPrep Academy on the property. But that was derailed when former Miami Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla was allegedly paid $245,000 to use his influence to intercede on behalf of David and Leila Centner, who wanted the property to build a “sports dome” across the street from their namesake Centner Academy. Diaz de la Portilla was later indicted on charges of money laundering and bribery. The Centners have not been charged and deny wrongdoing. Miami Herald. WPLG. WLRN.

Broward: A teacher at Park Lakes Elementary School in Lauderdale Lakes is under investigation for allegedly kneeing a 6-year-old student in the groin area Feb. 8 after he did the same to a classmate. The teacher has been reassigned during the investigation. WFOR. A 17-year-old student who had been expelled from Coral Springs Charter School was arrested Tuesday when he went back into the school and then a classroom after a fire drill. The boy has been charged with misdemeanor trespassing. WSVN. WPLG.

Duval: Construction has begun on a $33 million building at Mandarin High School in Jacksonville that will house culinary and medical labs and replace 19 portable classrooms. The district’s half-cent sales tax is funding the construction. The building is expected to open in the fall of 2025. WJXT.

Pasco: Demolition began Wednesday on the old Gulf High School, which is directly behind the new school that students began moving into after the winter break. The old school stood for nearly 50 years, but tearing it down is expected to take just four weeks. Spectrum News 9.

Brevard: After a chaotic 2-plus-hour meeting filled with arguments, school board members revised, created or rescinded 124 district policies to align them with state standards. Most of the discussion revolved around immunizations – what’s required, what’s not and how to get exemptions – and how book challenges are handled. The only policy that didn’t pass with a unanimous vote was one allowing teachers to provide “reasonable periods of time for programs of meditation upon a moral, philosophical or patriotic theme” without requiring them to do so. Florida Today.

St. Lucie: School board members decided this week to take no action on a proposal cutting the amount of time unscheduled speakers could comment during board meetings from 3 minutes to 2 minutes if there were more than 10 speakers, or 1 minute if there were more than 20 speakers. Scheduled speakers are given 5 minutes. Board member Donna Mills called the proposal “ridiculous,” and added, “I’m disappointed that this ever came up. It’s wrong. The purpose of this board is to encourage its citizens to bring their thoughts and concerns to the attention of this board.” TCPalm. A 15-year-old student was hospitalized after being hit by a car Wednesday morning near St. Lucie West Centennial High School and St. Lucie West K-8 School. The injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. WPTV. TCPalm.

Lake: Just $3,600 has been raised of the $250,000 needed to turn the Rosenwald School in Okahumpka into a historical site with educational and interpretive displays of historical figures and a community center. The school was built in 1929 by philanthropist Julius Rosenwald for black students, who were not permitted to be educated with white children. It closed in 1964. Enough grants have been secured to restore the school and build the community center, but donations are needed for things the grants can’t cover, such as driveways, parking, sidewalks, landscaping, display items and historical school-related furniture. Daily Commercial.

Alachua: The assistant principal at a Catholic school in Gainesville has been arrested and accused of covering up the sexual abuse of middle school girls by a physical education teacher who is also the athletic director. Ryan Michael Clemens, 41, the assistant principal at St. Patrick Interparish School, is charged with child neglect and tampering with evidence. It follows the arrest last week of Christopher Chell, 46, on charges of lewd and lascivious battery of a child between the ages of 12 and 16. WCJB.

Bay: The school district’s participation in the state’s career and technology education programs has paid off. Since the 2010-2011 school year, the programs have paid districts for every student in the program who earns a certificate. “So in 12 years, the programs have grown from where they’ve earned $42,000 to close to $1,000,000, and that’s huge. All of that funding that’s earned and generated goes right back into the career technical education programs,” said school board member Ann Leonard. WMBB.

Citrus: County commissioners have approved the school board’s list of planned school improvements that will be made with impact fees on new development. The largest project is at Floral City Elementary, which will get almost $8 million for an expansion of the kitchen and cafeteria, a new classroom wing and a wing for special education. Citrus County Chronicle.

Walton: Jennifer Nick is the new principal at Bay Elementary School in Santa Rosa Beach. She was formerly the assistant principal at Dune Lakes Elementary, also in Santa Rosa Beach. DeFuniak Herald.

Colleges and universities: Less than two weeks after the University of Florida publicly eliminated all diversity, equity and inclusion programs and fired their employees, Florida State University quietly dismantled its DEI office without layoffs by changing title names and moving employees into different jobs. Tallahassee Democrat.

Around the nation: TikTok would be banned under a bill approved Wednesday in the U.S. House if its China-based owner doesn’t sell its shares in the social media platform within six months after the bill takes effect. The bill now heads to the Senate. President Joe Biden said he would sign it if it’s passed by Congress. Associated Press. USA Today Florida Network. The Texas Education Agency has appointed conservators to oversee and direct IDEA Public Schools in the state as part of a settlement after an investigation into allegations of “financial and operational impropriety” by the charter school company. IDEA, which is based in Weslaco, Texas, has about 80,000 students in 143 schools. Most of the schools are in Texas, but six are in Florida. K-12 Dive. About 83 percent of U.S. high school students value on-the-job training more highly than other post-secondary options such as college, according to a new survey commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. About 1,700 high school juniors and seniors and 3,000 adults 18-30 years old who didn’t go to college or left their post-secondary program were surveyed. The 74.

Opinions on schools: New College of Florida students may be free to read Milton’s famous dictum, asking for “the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties” as directed against the forces of an overpowering woke activism, but perhaps even more so against the forces intervening in the marketplace of ideas at their own institution. Richard Utz, Inside Higher Ed. The settlement this week of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law was a resounding victory for the parents and LGBTQ advocacy groups who filed the suit. It dramatically limits the law’s application to a narrow set of circumstances that seldom occur in K-12 public schools. Judd Legum, Popular Information.

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BY NextSteps staff