Licata’s separation deal slashed, black history museum site
recommendation, and more

Cell phone restrictions, state’s black history museum, FIU’s top ranking, superintendents, and more

Around the state: Broward’s school board is considering restrictions on students’ use of cell phones at school that could include an outright ban, a task force is recommending to state officials that Florida’s black history museum be located in St. Johns County, Florida International University received the highest ranking among the 12 state schools in qualifying for performance-based funding, Duval’s new school superintendent starts his job today, a Polk school board member is suing two other candidates and a political consultant for defamation during the 2022 election campaign, and Lake County’s superintendent gets high marks in her annual evaluation from the school board. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward: Cell phone use would be restricted for most of the school day under a policy change being considered for the student code of conduct. Current policy bans use of phones during classes unless authorized by a teacher and otherwise requires them to be turned off or placed on silent. School board members don’t think that goes far enough and want them banned during breaks, class changes and lunch. Parents opposed to the ban are proposing a compromise: allow phones to remain in airplane mode, where they’d have no access to the Internet other than the district’s restricted network. “It’s technically off but it’s easy to turn it back on if there’s an emergency,” Superintendent Howard Hepburn told the school board last week. The options will be considered at a July 23 school board meeting. Sun Sentinel.

Hillsborough, Pasco: Thirty-five newly trained educators from Teach for America will move into Hillsborough and Pasco classrooms this fall. The organization recruits college students during their senior years and trains them, then sends them into classrooms in 42 U.S. school districts. It’s operated in Florida for more than two decades, and is also is sending teachers into Miami-Dade and Duval classrooms this year. Hillsborough pays Teach for America $5,000 for each teacher, who makes a two-year commitment in return for the training and some financial assistance. Tampa Bay Times.

Duval: New Superintendent Christopher Bernier starts his job today. The former Lee County schools leader was hired in May and received a four-year contract worth $320,000 a year. He said his top priorities are dealing with the district’s enrollment decline, finances, safety for schools and students, and teacher pay. WJAX. WJXT.

Polk: District 7 school board member Lisa Miller has filed a defamation lawsuit against two candidates from her 2022 campaign and their political consultant. Miller won her race against Jill Sessions, but alleges that Sessions, District 5 candidate Terry Clark and their adviser James Earl Dunn Jr. sent anonymous text messages falsely claiming that Miller and her husband Robert were under criminal investigation. Lakeland Ledger.

Lake: Superintendent Diane Kornegay earned a perfect score on student performance objectives in her annual evaluation by the school board. Those indicators include graduation rates, acceleration rates, student support services and teacher retention. “Her dedication is evidenced by the work she has done and the positive way the district is running,” said board chair Mollie Cunningham. Triangle Sun. Kornegay recently announced new principals for six schools and several changes to her administrative staff. Lake County School District.

Leon: At last week’s candidate forum, Superintendent Rocky Hanna and challenger Star Swain disagreed on whether teachers’ personal beliefs should be kept to themselves or shared with students. WFSU.

Okaloosa: Fort Walton Beach’s police department is drafting an ordinance to allow speed detection cameras to be placed in the city’s school zones. Drivers whose vehicles are clocked going 10 mph over the speed limit would be mailed tickets if an ordinance is approved. Northwest Florida Daily News.

Alachua: Sixteen teachers have transferred in 2024 from Newberry Elementary School, which is expected to convert from a public school to a charter school in the fall. School board member Tina Certain attributes the high number of transfers to the conversion effort, which was pushed by city officials. Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe accuses the school district of initiating the exodus by threatening teachers  that they could lose their jobs if the conversion was successful. WCJB.

Highlands: An administrative law judge will conduct a hearing on the accusations against a former Avon Park Middle School principal for creating a hostile work environment and sexually harassing some employees. Christopher Doty, who is challenging incumbent Brenda Longshore for the superintendent’s job in the Aug. 20 primary, has denied the charges. No hearing date has been announced. Highlands News-Sun.

Colleges and universities: Florida International University is the highest ranked of the 12 universities to qualify for performance-based funding from the state. FIU earned 96 points according to the formula, while the University of Florida was second at 92. Florida Phoenix. Miami Herald. Pensacola News Journal. Undergraduate enrollment is up 13 percent at the University of West Florida in Pensacola for the second straight year, and is now expected to top 10,000 in the fall. WEAR. Randy Avent, the founding president of Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, talks about his 10-year tenure, the slow growth model he recommended that was accepted, the aborted move to put Florida Poly under the University of South Florida, and more. His last day is July 6. Lakeland Ledger. Appeals by two University of South Florida students who helped plan the pro-Palestinian protests have been rejected by the school. Incoming junior Joseph Charry, an incoming junior, is suspended until next May, and Victoria Hinckley, who was a senior, has been expelled. WUSF. Florida Gateway College trustees are considering starting a career and technical education high school that would be named Florida Gateway Collegiate Academy. WCJB.

Black history museum: Florida’s black history museum should be located in St. Johns County, the state task force studying prospective sites is recommending to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature. Its final report chose a location just south of St. Augustine over proposals for Eatonville and Opa-locka, and outlines how the state can build, market and operate the museum to make it self-sufficient. News Service of Florida. Orlando Sentinel. Florida Phoenix. Spectrum News 13. WJXT. WTLV. WESH. WKMG.

Education in the courts: The U.S. Department of Justic has filed a friend-of-the-court brief is support of two teachers’ lawsuit challenging Florida’s law requiring educators to use pronouns that align with their sex assigned at birth. The law violates their First Amendment rights and a federal civil-rights law, their lawsuit contends. News Service of Florida. A lawsuit by Florida State University against the Atlantic Coast Conference over its effort to leave the league will continue, the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Friday. The ACC has petitioned the court to put the case on hold, at least temporarily. News Service of Florida.

Opinions on schools: The best way for education to boost American democracy may be for policymakers to support good schools, regardless of sector. Chad Aldeman, The 74.

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