August 12, 2022
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The big story: It’s school prayer.

And not just any school prayer. Rather, it’s about pregame prayer at a state high school football championship being contested by two religious schools.

Seven years ago, representatives from Cambridge Christian in Tampa and University Christian in Jacksonville wanted to use the public address system at the FHSAA-sponsored activity to offer words of faith. FHSAA officials rejected the request.

The schools have been suing ever since.

This week, a U.S. district judge ruled against the schools, saying the denial of unrestricted access to the loudspeaker did not equate to a violation of First Amendment rights. Read the News Service of Florida account here.

Hot topics

Bus driver shortages: Pasco County parents criticized school district plans to eliminate unfunded “courtesy” bus rides in the fall. Some said the district could better solve its shortage by improving driver pay. • The Alachua County school district says it is struggling to fill 30 bus driver vacancies, the Gainesville Sun reports. The district starting pay is $16.08 per hour.

Gender lessons: New York City’s mayor appealed to Floridians unhappy with the state’s new law prohibiting instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity. He said he was inviting them to “come to a city where you can say and be whoever you want.” The campaign will feature billboards in five major Florida markets. • Days after Gov. DeSantis signed HB 1557 into law, a Winter Park High student went viral with his lesson about the Stonewall riots, which his teacher let him present to class, the Washington Post reports.

Testing: Students began taking the Florida Standards Assessments for the final time this week, WPTV reports. The governor approved new law replacing the spring exams with more regular progress monitoring assessments.

The state of education: The superintendents of Miami-Dade and Broward schools spoke about issues including student mental health, teacher pay and curriculum changes during a wide-ranging roundtable with the Miami Herald.

Other school news

A Leon County school principal’s suspension will stand. He was accused of paying teachers for extra work that was not documented, in violation of district policy, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

The Nassau County School Board is reconsidering its Florida School Boards Association membership. Board members said the organization focuses too much of its efforts on large district issues, Florida Politics reports.

An internal audit revealed payroll errors at five Broward County schools. The reports identified thousands of dollars were misspent, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

The Lee County school district is paying a marketing firm thousands to monitor media. It also reportedly has asked staff to do the same work, leading to an investigation about the expense and the work, WINK reports.

We’ll break down the local and state education developments you need to know every Thursday.
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Broward College has a free program helping students find jobs through courses. U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said he wants to replicate the model nationwide, the Miami Herald reports.

More severe weather is coming. Some Panhandle school districts are closing as a precaution, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

From the court docket … Jury selection began for the sentencing of 2018 Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz, who faces the death penalty, the Associated Press reports. • An Alachua County judge ruled that Gov. DeSantis was within his authority when he removed a School Board member from her post because she did not meet the residency requirement, Main Street Daily News reports.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s a link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go … When you think you’ve made the right decision, maybe it’s worth another thought.

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