Senate approves social media bill, budget agreement reached, judges stop ‘Stop Woke’ law, and more

Revised social media bill passed: Florida senators overwhelmingly passed a revamped bill Monday that would put  restrictions on teenagers’ access to social media platforms. HB 3 would prohibit children under 14 from having social media accounts, but allow them for 14- and 15-year-olds with parental consent. HB 1, which was vetoed Friday by Gov. Ron DeSantis, did not have the parental consent provision for any child under 16. HB 3 now goes back to the House for a final vote. News Service of Florida. USA Today Florida Network. Politico Florida. Orlando Sentinel. Florida Politics.

Budget deal reached: Senate and House negotiators finalized a state spending plan of about $116 billion for the 2024-2025 fiscal year on Monday, which will be presented to lawmakers today. Among items added to the final agreement is $5 million for the Schools of Hope program, which helps charter companies open schools near persistently struggling public schools. It’s the first time the program has received funding since the 2021-2022 budget. Reaching the deal gives legislators the required 72 hours between the time an agreement is reached and a final vote can be taken and still adjourn the session as scheduled on Friday. Politico Florida. USA Today Florida Network. News Service of Florida.

Also in the Legislature: Victims of abuse at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna between 1940 and 1975 will receive $20 million to share under a bill that’s now on the desk of Gov. DeSantis. The school that was set up to house boys who committed crimes closed in 2011. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. USA Today Florida Network. Florida Politics. Senators approved a school safety bill Monday after adding a ban against drones flying over campuses unless the operator was given permission by the school or law enforcement is operating the machines. It now goes back to the House for final approval. News Service of Florida.

Judges reject Stop Woke: A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a 2022 state law restricting what Gov. DeSantis called “woke” workplace training about race “exceeds the bounds of the First Amendment,” and Florida is now blocked from enforcing the law. An injunction was issued against the state in a similar challenge of restrictions on the way race-related concepts can be taught in higher education. The state appealed that ruling, and it goes back to court in June. Politico Florida. USA Today Florida Network. News Service of Florida.

Around the state: Broward schools are conducting an audit after a teacher was accused of not paying a vendor $16,000 and also will revise district policy on dealing with arrested workers, a Pasco review committee is recommending that a challenged book of essays by LGBTQ authors be available only in high schools, several teachers unions in west-central Florida have struggled to remain certified, and Jacksonville University’s law school has received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association just 18 months after opening. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: The arrest of the debate coach at Western High School in Davie on fraud charges last month is prompting a district audit and a proposed change in how the district deals with employees who are arrested or under investigation. Dario Camara is accused of failing to pay a vendor $16,000 in catering charges made in 2022 and 2023. He’s been reassigned to a job with no student contact pending the results of the investigation. Sun-Sentinel. A Dania Beach woman was arrested Monday and accused of assaulting a 4th-grade teacher at Dania Elementary School last week. Deputies said Tarra Marla McIntosh, 43, hit the teacher several times in the face during after-school dismissal. WPLG.

Duval: A district judge has ruled that two school board districts were racially gerrymandered by the Jacksonville City Council, but declined to order special elections for those seats as requested by the plaintiffs. So District 4 school board member Darryl Willie and District 6’s Charlotte Joyce will remain in their seats at least until the 2026 election. The Tributary. Florida Times-Union. Neptune Beach City Council agreed Monday to install speed detection devices in city school zones. Drivers who go more than 10 mph over the speed limit in the zones during school hours will receive a $100 ticket in the mail. WTLV.

West-central Florida: Teachers unions in and around the Tampa Bay area are struggling to meet the 60 percent threshold the state requires to remain certified. Pinellas and Polk failed to collect signatures from 60 percent of eligible members, and are now going through the lengthy recertification process to try again to reach that standard. If they can’t, they will be decertified. Hillsborough and Pasco are in the process of trying to beat the deadline to hit the 60 percent mark, while Manatee’s and Sarasota’s unions both exceeded it. WUSF.

Pasco: A 10-person book review committee decided Monday that a book of essays by LGBTQ authors was too explicit for middle school students but recommended allowing The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to Their Younger Selves in high schools. Parent Rebecca Yuengling, who filed the complaint, said she disagreed with the committee’s recommendation but does not expect to appeal it because the appeal would go to Superintendent Kurt Browning, who “appointed everyone on this committee,” she said. Tampa Bay Times.

Escambia: Carl Madison, a longtime football coach at Tate High School and a member of the Florida High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame, died Sunday at the age of 93. He led the team to the 1980 state championship and Tate High renamed its football field in his honor in 2022. Pensacola News Journal. WEAR.

Colleges and universities: Jacksonville University’s law school has received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association just 18 months after opening. Graduates will now be able to take the Bar exam required to practice and can be considered for clerkships and other jobs. “It’s a big, big deal,” said dean Nicholas Allard. Florida Times-Union. Jacksonville Today. The University of Florida’s journalism school has received an $8 million gift from Gainesville developer Nathan Collier. Gainesville Sun. A federal jury has found Andrea Mitchell and Lester Best, both of Tampa, guilty of stealing $835,000 in financial aid intended for an unnamed higher education institution in Florida that “awards, associate degrees, certificates and diplomas.” U.S. Department of Justice.

Opinions on schools: A massive increase in non-teaching staff in public schools is partially to blame for average U.S. teacher salaries declining since 2002 while spending per pupil has increased. Whatever it is that all those non-teaching staff are doing, it sadly doesn’t seem to have much to do with student learning. Matthew Ladner, NextSteps. The Legislature ought to change existing policy to make it possible for families to use their Family Empowerment Scholarship at hybrid schools. This subtle but important change would help Florida remain a leader in delivering bang-for-buck in education. William Mattox, Florida Politics.

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BY NextSteps staff