Feds warn Florida to reconsider withholding money from school boards over mask mandates
President Joe Biden’s administration on Monday warned top Florida education officials to “reconsider your threatened actions” after the state said it would try to thwart attempts to use federal money to cover salaries of county school-board members who approved student mask requirements.
State Board of Education eyes 11 school districts over mask policies
Continuing to pressure school districts over their handling of COVID-19, the State Board of Education has scheduled a meeting next week to look at whether 11 districts have complied with rules aimed at preventing student mask mandates.
Duval County Schools responds to Education Department’s mask mandate ultimatum
In a letter sent to Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the Duval County School Board said it chose to put in place a mask mandate for students with a medical opt out after 11 school district employees died and more than 1,600 cases were reported in schools over the first three weeks.
FSU presidential search controversy continues
Florida State University has narrowed down its presidential candidates to three candidates. Notably, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran isn’t one of those, after the university’s accreditation was threatened over his candidacy. But some are now calling for the search to be halted.
Education commissioner says a Duval teacher who hung BLM flag was fired. She wasn’t.
During a speech at a private conservative college last week, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran referenced Amy Donofrio, a Jacksonville teacher who generated controversy after she was removed from her classroom in March.
FSU eyes candidates to replace Thrasher as president
As Florida State University seeks a successor to retiring President John Thrasher, a committee Friday started interviewing nine finalists for the job --- as questions swirled about a potential conflict of interest for one high-profile candidate and as a student campaign emerged for another.
Emergency Order: State exams can be optional for Florida seniors, 3rd graders to graduate
Florida high school seniors will be able to graduate this year and third graders can move on without passing the normally required state assessments, according to a new executive order signed Friday by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.
Florida lawmakers look to address ‘COVID slide’
“I do believe that the children who have had the biggest COVID learning slide have been the ones who are learning remotely. The federal government requires 95 percent of Florida students in grades 3 through 8 to sit for math and English-language arts exams. The Biden administration and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran both appear to be forging ahead with a plan to keep standardized testing in place for the current school year. The commissioner said Monday that roughly 65 percent to 70 percent of Florida students are back in classrooms getting in-person instruction. Under the bill, that customized plan could include mid-year promotion to the next grade, summer school or supplemental education support.
St. Johns school board asks education commissioner to lift negative consequences for state tests
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – In a letter sent to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, members of the St. Johns County School Board asked the state not to penalize the school district based on the results of the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) tests. “We want to give the test because we want to understand where our children are performing. AdThe letter, which was also signed by Superintendent Tim Forson, cites the U.S. Department of Education which said assessment flexibility was needed due to the ongoing pandemic. “Man students and staff members have missed time at school due to the illness itself, or mandatory quarantine, and students struggled in online platforms for a variety of reasons,” the letter states. Standardized testing begins April 15 and continues through May 28 in Florida schools.
Florida superintendents ask state education commissioner to limit importance of standard testing due to pandemic
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Statewide school testing begins next month, but Florida superintendents are worried their students might not be ready. Pointing to a need for flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, the President of Florida Association of Superintendents and Pinellas County Superintendent Michael Grego on Wednesday urged Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to ask the federal government for waivers related to student assessments and accountability. But Corcoran sign an order February 15 requiring in-person testing for students in grade 3 and up. The US Department of Education has also been urging states to move forward with testing. Standardized testing begins April 15 and continues through May 28 in Florida schools.
State grants extra time for standardized tests
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Amid a debate about whether students should be required to take standardized tests in person as COVID-19 continues to spread, the state Department of Education is giving an additional two weeks for the Florida Standards Assessments and a statewide science test to be administered. “The department will use best efforts to respond to all such requests within five days,” the emergency order says. During Monday’s committee meeting, senators asked Kelly whether the state will meet a federal requirement that 95 percent of Florida students in grades 3-8 sit for math and English-language arts exams. The state assessments that have been given a time extension are subject tests in English-language arts and reading, writing, math and science, which are administered to students in grades 3-10. Corcoran’s emergency order also gives school districts “flexibility for administering tests on nights and weekends,” a spokesman for the education department told The News Service of Florida in an email Monday.
Florida couple charged with stealing state trade secrets
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As many as 10,000 Florida teachers and principles are believed to have passed their certification exams using materials the federal government alleges were stolen from the state. Kathleen Jasper, 42, and her husband, Jeremy, 40, face 108 counts of wire fraud and three counts of stealing trade secrets, in this case the contents of the teacher certification exam and the executive leadership exam. He said the department has also worked to replace the questions at issue to preserve the integrity of teacher certification exams. “If the charged allegations are proven, stealing questions from Florida’s teacher certification exams and then profiting by selling live test questions, especially to unknowing educators, is despicable,” Corcoran said. He said the content his client is accused of stealing was already available on the state Department of Education’s website.
Families weigh learning options as school districts finalize plans for spring 2021
Here’s where they stand at last check:Duval County Public SchoolsDuval County families have until Friday to cancel Duval HomeRoom for the spring semester. As of Wednesday, Duval County Public Schools Spokeswoman Sonya Duke-Bolden said, 2,200 families have requested to opt out of Duval Homeroom for the third quarter. Also, as of Wednesday, 80,780 students were enrolled in brick and mortar classes, 27,203 in Duval HomeRoom and 1,481 were learning via Duval Virtual Instruction Academy. Duke-Bolden added that these numbers do not include charter school students. St. Johns County School DistrictThe St. Johns County School District told News4Jax a survey was sent to families with students participating in distance learning, asking about their intended second-semester learning option.
Gov. DeSantis: Schools will remain open, remote learning to continue next semester
Ron DeSantis on Monday announced that remote learning will continue into the next semester and schools will continue to be required to be open five days a week. The announcement was expected after Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said in early November that distance learning will continue into 2021. DeSantis said all parents should have a choice to enroll students in either in-person or online learning, but continued his criticism of the decision to close schools and businesses. “Schools are a safe place to be.”Corcoran said the now updated emergency order will keep full funding in effect for school districts that continue to offer virtual learning. Across Florida, cases continue to climb.
Emergency order for schools not coming before Thanksgiving
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s education commissioner has said he hoped to have a new emergency order detailing how public schools would operate beginning in January before Thanksgiving arrived. But it looks like the order will be coming later than expected. “I would say I think the next emergency order is going to be a significant improvement based on our first 90, 100 days in school,” Corcoran said. And Corcoran said in the spring there will have to be greater efforts to intervene when online learning isn’t working for a student. A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the agency expects to have the updated emergency order issued before the end of the month.
Florida education commissioner says distance learning will continue into next year
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida students will be able to continue to learn remotely through the second half of the school year as the state grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said Wednesday. The Florida Education Association teachers union sued the state in July after Corcoran ordered school districts to offer in-person instruction when the 2020-2021 school year began. Corcoran told the state education board Wednesday that he expects to release another order addressing the pandemic by the end of this month. The Florida Education Association is asking the full court to reconsider the ruling, even as schools across the state have resumed in-person instruction. “We have not yet made that determination,” said Jason Wheeler, Community Information Specialist for Flagler County Schools.
Florida looks to close book on school reopening fight
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Trying to end months of legal wrangling, the state is urging an appeals court to keep in place a decision that backed Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran in a fight about reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. A key issue in the legal fight has involved part of the order that dealt with the way public schools are funded. In his Aug. 24 ruling that granted a temporary injunction, Dodson said the order left school districts with “no meaningful alternative” about reopening classrooms. But the panel of the Tallahassee-based appeals court overturned Dodson’s ruling on a series of grounds.
Court asked to reconsider school reopening fight
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Education Association and other plaintiffs asked an appeals court Monday to reconsider a decision that backed Gov. The order effectively conditioned a portion of money on school districts submitting reopening plans that included the use of brick-and-mortar classrooms, in addition to offering online alternatives. In an Aug. 24 ruling that sided with the plaintiffs and granted a temporary injunction, Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson said the order left school districts with “no meaningful alternative” about reopening classrooms. “An injunction in this case will allow local school boards to make safety determinations for the reopening of schools without financial penalty,” Dodson wrote. “In fact, the emergency order does not require school districts to do anything.
Florida appeals court sides with state in school reopening fight
School districts assign teachers to classrooms and approve or deny their requested accommodations. In his Aug. 24 ruling granting a temporary injunction, Dodson said the order left school districts with “no meaningful alternative” about reopening classrooms. “The offer to provide increased state funding to school districts that reopen for in-person instruction is also rational,” Rowe wrote. But because the commissioner exercised his discretion to provide waivers from the funding statutes and rules, school districts were eligible to receive increased funding. The appeals court decision said Corcoran’s order gave school districts discretion about how to handle the situation.
DeSantis says closing schools in spring was a mistake
DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran have pushed heavily to reopen classrooms for the new school year. “So, now we’re at the point where the people who advocate school closures are really the flat earthers of our day,” DeSantis said. They’re doing it based on either politics or emotion. Schools in Miami-Dade County begin staggered reopenings on Monday, with Broward County schools restarting in-person instruction on Oct. 9. But you know, we’ve got a lot of blue-collar families and working mothers who have to go to work,” DeSantis said.
Facing state pressure, Miami schools OK reopening next week
MIAMI – Faced with a state ultimatum, the Miami-Dade school board agreed unanimously to reopen schools for classroom instruction next week despite looming fears that they're unprepared to prevent another spike in coronavirus infections. It was either share classroom air again or lose millions in state funding by scratching a reopening plan approved by Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. He ordered the board in a letter last week to follow through on Monday, and said the state would allow only case-by-case exceptions for certain schools. Ron DeSantis have pushed for classroom instruction to begin again. In Miami-Dade, where schools have struggled to successfully implement remote instruction this school year, no school has more than four infections, the numbers show.
Florida education commissioner, board member spar over COVID-19 data
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Wednesday criticized “union bosses” and said Florida has been a model for reopening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but a member of the State Board of Education defended leaders of teachers unions and called for better data about children infected with the virus. The exchange between Corcoran and Board of Education member Michael Olenick came as the state continues to battle the Florida Education Association teachers union in court about a reopening order and as school districts move forward with offering in-person and online classes to students. “When we opened up schools, you know what every teacher wanted to do, just like every student wanted to do? The unions argue that Corcoran’s order violated the Florida Constitution’s guarantee of “safe” and “secure” public schools because of the pandemic. I think we’re a model for the rest of the nation.”Olenick, however, questioned Corcoran about transparency in reporting COVID-19 cases involving students.
Judges refuse to step aside from schools case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After getting skipped over for a seat on the Florida Supreme Court, appellate judges Lori Rowe and Timothy Osterhaus on Tuesday refused to disqualify themselves from a legal battle about a state order to reopen schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Florida Education Association and other plaintiffs last week filed a motion requesting that Rowe and Osterhaus step aside from the case, which is pending at the 1st District Court of Appeal. Ron DeSantis — one of the defendants in the case — could consider them for a seat on the Supreme Court. Rowe and Osterhaus were on a short list of Supreme Court candidates submitted to DeSantis in January. But on Monday, DeSantis appointed 5th District Court of Appeal Judge Jamie Grosshans to fill the Supreme Court seat.
Still no word on when state plans to publish COVID-19 data for schools
Since then, there have been calls for the state and school districts to publish data that shows how many positive coronavirus tests have infiltrated public schools. Ron DeSantis said the school coronavirus report is still being developed but offered no timetable for its arrival. RELATED: State data show COVID-19 cases spiking among young people in Northeast FloridaOf the 429 new cases in St. Johns County in September, 146 are in the 15-24 age group, 34% of the cases. DeSantis said Friday that the state has seen very few cases compared to the number of K-12 students that have been in session. That’s not the way it’s going.”Last week, DeSantis said he wants to differentiate between asymptomatic and symptomatic COVID-19 students when the state does finally release a breakdown of the virus in schools.
Florida teachers union says judges should step aside from schools case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. The Florida Education Association and other plaintiffs challenging a state order to reopen schools requested Wednesday that two appellate judges step aside from the case because Gov. Ron DeSantis could consider them for an appointment to the Florida Supreme Court. The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission in January included Rowe and Osterhaus on a list of nine nominees for two open seats on the Florida Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court in the Aug. 27 decision said it couldnt go along with that request. The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued another ruling that allowed Thompson to revise her complaint to seek that fix.
Bush group weighs in on school reopening fight
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. An influential education group led by former Gov. Jeb Bush is backing the state in a legal battle about an order requiring school districts to open classrooms for face-to-face instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foundation for Excellence in Education, which is chaired by Bush, filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday at the 1st District Court of Appeal supporting Gov. A Leon County circuit judge last month ruled that a July 6 order issued by Corcoran about reopening classrooms was unconstitutional. The state immediately appealed the ruling by Circuit Judge Charles Dodson to the Tallahassee-based appeals court.
Govenor to parents: Schools are safe
The governor said he is also committed to making sure parents know which schools have outbreaks. Last week the state briefly published a report showing 900 K-12 teachers and students had tested positive for COVID-19. At a roundtable designed to assure parents that sending kids back to the class was safe, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran called the numbers: Its a diminimus amount. Or move quicker than they were to get back to brick and mortar schools said the working mother. It showed 6,167 kids 17 and under had tested positive for the coronavirus since schools began opening Aug. 10.
What led to the first school shut down in Florida
OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – As of Monday morning, every school district in Florida has started its school year. But one Central Florida school was open Monday after it became the first school in the state to have closed due to COVID-19 after reopening for the year. According to sister station WKMG, Harmony Middle School in Osceola County shut its campus down for in-person learning for the next two weeks after 10 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran addressed the school closure during a news conference on Monday. So we need our adults in the school system to be very safe,” Corcoran said.
Florida school reopening ruling back on hold
The unions argue that Corcorans order violates the Florida Constitutions guarantee of safe and secure public schools. @EducationFL Richard Corcoran (@richardcorcoran) August 28, 2020After the appeals court put Dodsons ruling on hold Friday, Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram released a statement vowing to continue battling the state over the issue. Corcorans order required school districts to reopen brick-and-mortar schools five days a week in August, unless state and local health officials say otherwise. The states lawyers pointed out that Florida law bases district funding on surveys of the number of children in schools. Corcorans emergency order waived the funding requirements for school districts that submitted reopening plans approved by state education officials.
Florida judge rejects putting schools ruling on hold
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Siding with teachers unions, a Leon County circuit judge Thursday lifted a stay of his earlier ruling that a state order requiring schools to reopen in August is unconstitutional. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and other state education officials of ignoring the Florida Constitution by requiring school districts to resume face-to-face instruction this month amid the coronavirus pandemic. Attorneys for Corcoran and DeSantis immediately filed a notice of appealing Dodson’s ruling to the 1st District Court of Appeal. Under law, that notice of appeal automatically placed a stay on Dodson’s ruling -- effectively putting it on hold until the Tallahassee-based appeals court can resolve the case. In Thursday’s order, Dodson scolded the state for misrepresenting his temporary injunction.
State says school ruling should remain on hold
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida officials are urging a Leon County circuit judge to keep in place a stay on his ruling that a state mandate to reopen brick-and-mortar schools is unconstitutional. Ron DeSantis immediately filed a notice of appealing Dodson’s ruling to the 1st District Court of Appeal. Under law, that notice of appeal automatically placed a stay on Dodson’s ruling — effectively putting it on hold until the Tallahassee-based appeals court can resolve the case. Late Tuesday, attorneys for the Florida Education Association and the Orange County teachers union asked Dodson to lift the stay. “The court should deny the motion and maintain the stay so that families already beset by uncertainty and concern will not be further burdened by repeated and potentially contradictory orders,” the state’s lawyers wrote.
Florida school reopening ruling appealed, triggering stay
The filing triggered an automatic stay that puts on hold Mondays ruling by Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, attorneys for the state wrote, citing legal precedents. The unions argued, in part, that the order violated a state constitutional guarantee of safe and secure public education. Schools districts have risked losing funding if they did not comply with Corcorans order, and many have already opened. The notice of appeal, as is common, did not detail arguments that the state will make at the appeals court. It also was not immediately clear how long it will take the court to consider the case.
Judge sides with Florida teachers union, says districts should decide if schools should reopen
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. A Tallahassee-based judge sided with Floridas largest teachers union Monday ruling that Floridas blanket order to require schools to teach students in the classroom during the coronavirus pandemic is unconstitutional. Florida Education Association, the states largest teachers union, along with a number of other organizations filed a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and the state alleging reopening schools was unsafe. The judges decision comes after a weeks-long legal battle between the union and the state. In the judges decision, he said the ultimate purpose of the order was to provide guidance and permission for schools to reopen and he worked to preserve those elements.
Education commissioner: There’s no risk of lives lost due to in-person learning
When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if there is a risk that lives will be lost because of the decision to open schools, Corcoran said “no.”“No, and multiple reasons,” Corcoran said. @jaketapper: “Is there still not a risk here that lives are going to be lost” as schools open? “No,” Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran says, citing transmission rates and digital options. Schools risk losing funding if they don’t comply with Corcoran’s order, which teachers’ attorneys called “financial bullying.”Lawyers representing Gov. Ron DeSantis, Corcoran and state education officials, who are defendants in the case, maintain that the Constitution also requires the state to provide “high-quality education” to Florida schoolchildren.
Educational officials offer guidance on handling coronavirus
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Florida education officials have outlined how local school officials should respond when students or employees test positive for the coronavirus, providing more details on what has been a top concern amid school reopenings. While Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has acknowledged coronavirus cases are likely to occur when schools resume in-person instruction, the report spotlights the steps school officials should take when students and teachers get infected at school. Local school officials are being asked to contact a COVID-19 team within the state education agency to discuss the coronavirus symptomatic decision tree before shutting down classrooms or schools. At least three districts Martin, Bradford and Seminole have reported positive coronavirus cases among students and teachers since schools began reopening last week. To prevent the virus from spreading on campus, it is important to tell staff and parents that adullts are the biggest threat to the health of our school community, education officials wrote in Tuesdays report.
Hearing on Florida schools reopening lawsuit begins today
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Floridas largest teachers union has been joined by the NAACP in its lawsuit seeking to keep schools closed. That lawsuit will go before a judge Wednesday who will decide whether a state order requiring in-person learning in all 67 counties by the end of August is constitutional. Ron DeSantis, the Department of Education and Commissioner Richard Corcoran over the order arguing that the order is unconstitutional given that school districts are run by elected boards. School districts are being pressured with this zeal to open schools without regard for the continuing expansion of the pandemic, attorney Ron Meyer said. More than a dozen school districts -- including Baker, Bradford, Charlton and Union counties -- opened last week.
Florida education commissioner urges schools to use surgical response to coronavirus cases
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is urging local school officials to be very surgical, not sweeping when responding to coronavirus cases, which he acknowledged are likely to occur as classes resume this month. If you have a COVID-19 case or you have (COVID-19) symptoms, dont panic, Corcoran told school superintendents in a conference call Thursday. He also stressed that school officials should communicate with parents whenever a symptomatic individual attends school. The Florida Education Association and the union representing teachers in Orange County have filed lawsuits challenging Corcorans July 6 order. The unions allege that the mandate violates the state Constitution, which guarantees the right to safe and secure public schools.
Florida judge refuses to dismiss school closing case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. A lawsuit by a union representing Floridas largest teachers union seeking to keep schools closed is still alive Friday morning. After hearing arguments from both sides in a virtual haring, Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Florida Education Association against Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Department of Education and Commissioner Richard Corcoran requiring in-person learning in all 67 counties by the end of August. The FEA is challenging whether that order is constitutional given that school districts are run by elected boards. We are Wuhan, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, FEA attorney Ron Meyer told the judge Thursday.
Hearing set in Florida school reopening lawsuit
The Florida Education Association teachers union is challenging Corcoran’s July 6 emergency order requiring schools to reopen in August, unless state and local health officials say otherwise. The union alleges that Corcoran’s directive violates the state Constitution, which guarantees Floridians the right to “safe” and “secure” public education. Under Corcoran’s order, school districts outside of Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties risk losing state funds if they don’t open bricks-and-mortar classrooms. Dodson was assigned to the case this week, after Leon County Circuit Judges Angela Dempsey and John Cooper recused themselves. Florida deserves much better than confusing commands concerning life and death issues.”The union is also asking Dodson to expedite the case, slated for an online hearing Thursday morning.
Superintendents ask state to address COVID-19 testing issues
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. As Florida schools reopen this month, district superintendents are calling on state officials to address two major challenges: the need for rapid testing for COVID-19 and a statewide plan to handle students and staff members who test positive. Grego added the availability of tests and rapid results for students and staff members will be critical when school campuses reopen. The support of all state and private health care agencies to prioritize the availability of testing and rapid results of students and staff members will be critical, he wrote. In pressing Corcoran for statewide guidance on rapid testing and contact tracing, superintendents said statewide protocols would help with "public transparency and trust." In late July, Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said the state Department of Health was working on a plan to make sure rapid testing is available to schools.
Florida school reopening lawsuit sits in limbo
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – School districts began opening in-class learning Monday as the lawsuit filed by the Florida Education Association to delay classroom learning hangs in limbo. The order transferring the reopening lawsuit to the State Capital was issued last Thursday. The Florida Education Association, which filed the lawsuit, wants schools open — but safely. Late Friday, the Hillsborough County School District’s plan to start the school year with four weeks of online-only instruction was rejected by the state. “They brought together medical professionals from many of the area hospitals and asked them, is it safe to open schools,” Spar said.
No additional coronavirus deaths reported in Northeast Florida as state adds 77
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The Florida Department of Health on Sunday reported 77 additional coronavirus deaths, bringing the states total to 8,315 since the pandemic began. None of the additional deaths reported Sunday were in the 11 Northeast Florida counties tracked by News4Jax. Daily COVID-19 cases reported in Florida, JacksonvilleAfter reporting a record single-day increase of 197 cases on Saturday, Baker County on Sunday recorded 80 new cases. He said he has seen teachers saying, Im not going to risk my life when Im so close to retirement. Im going to retire instead. Weve seen that, for sure, across the state, Spar said.
Teachers march on Florida Governors Mansion over school reopenings
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Teachers from across Florida marched on the Governor's Mansion on Saturday over school reopenings. The teachers want schools to continue with virtual-only instruction until they feel it is safe to return to campus. Earlier this week, teachers were encouraged to contact their state and local leadership, to organize local protests and even to write their own obituaries. Teachers from across Florida marched on the Governor's Mansion on Saturday over school reopenings. (WJXT)In Northeast Florida, Baker and Bradford counties are set to begin school Monday and Union County will begin school on Wednesday.
DeSantis favors return of school sports in Florida
Ron DeSantis and Richard Corcoran, Floridas education commissioner, who both held a panel Thursday afternoon at the University of North Florida talking about the return of fall sports. However, high school sports still do not have a firm start date or an idea of how players and coaches will protect themselves from COVID-19. Hiding in the corner and pretending like if we just hide long enough it will go away -- thats not viable, DeSantis said. At high school media day, coaches and players had mixed reactions to getting back to competition. The Florida High Schools Sports Association will meet to discuss a firmer plan on Aug. 14.
Florida teachers union & state spar over emergency order
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. With days until the school year begins in many Florida districts, lawyers are fighting to kill a statewide emergency order that requires all schools to provide an in-person learning option five days a week. The Florida Education Association, the largest teachers union in the state, and five other plaintiffs are asking a judge to halt the order through a temporary injunction and allow districts to move to full-virtual learning until they deem it safe to reopen. Ron DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the Department of Education and the Florida Board of Education. RELATED: Attorneys challenge state order requiring brick-and-mortar learning optionSince the lawsuit was filed, Miami-Dade Countys school district submitted its reopening plan to the FDOE, a plan that involves starting the school year with 100-percent virtual learning. The FEA lawsuit claims the order unfairly threatens to slash funding for any districts that dont comply.
State OKs Duval Countys hybrid school reopening plan
The school board last month approved a hybrid learning plan to allow students to return to physical classrooms gradually, giving them an option to return to school a few days out of the week when classes resume Aug. 20. The chairman of the school board said Duval schools arent ready to reopen based on the current COVID-19 conditions. The head of DCPS said $70 million in funding was at stake if its back-to-school plan had not been approved by the state. Floridas DOE also approved Miami-Dades reopening plan, which is 100% virtual. According to the states website, the state has approved the plans of 24 of Floridas 67 counties, including Baker, Clay and Putnam.
Miami-Dade County schools to start year online
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Miami-Dade County school district, the largest in the state, will start the upcoming school year with online classes on Aug. 31, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced Wednesday. Carvalho said the district will evaluate later whether conditions will allow schools to resume in-person instruction on Oct. 5. The decision came as Miami-Dade County continues to see massive increases in COVID-19 cases, including 20,758 new cases in the past seven days. Carvalho cited the surge in cases as the reason the 2020-2021 school year will start with distance learning. “I am confident that there is going to be in-person (instruction) throughout the state,” the governor told reporters.
Florida education commissioner says he’s sending his 6 children back to public school
CLEARWATER, Fla. – Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said Wednesday he plans to send all six of his children back to brick-and-mortar public schools this fall. “I have six children, all of them are in public school. All of my children will be going back to school in the fall,” Corcoran said during a round-table event at a special education school in Clearwater. Ron DeSantis, who joined Corcoran at the roundtable event at Paul B. Stephens Exceptional Student Education Center, said his children are not school age but added that he would have no problem sending his children to school. The school district in Duval County plans to start the school year with a hybrid virtual option that would not involve sending many students back to school five days a week.
Duval superintendent continues push for hybrid class model
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The conversation of how to safely start the school year ramped up Monday night with educators -- including the school superintendent -- talked options in a town hall meeting. During the NAACP town hall, Dr. Diana Greene, the Duval County school superintendent, was asked what reopening format she would support if there was no emergency order in place. I still probably would push for the hybrid because we have thousands of students who need brick-and-mortar, Greene said. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has defended the order, saying it was made to provide families with the options they need. Florida students, parents, teachers, and the public deserve and are constitutionally entitled to the protections needed to assure a lawful and safe reopening.The News Service of Florida contributed to this report
Parents & teachers named as plaintiffs in lawsuit against school reopening order
The lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade circuit court on Monday alleges that the order violates the state Constitution, which guarantees Floridians the right to safe and secure public education. Tragically, Florida, is now an international epicenter of the lethal and unforgiving novel coronavirus, the plaintiffs lawyers wrote. The education commissioner added that funding for school districts could be jeopardized if the unions complaint is successful. The lawsuit asks that schools be supplied with adequate personal protective equipment for students and employees. If students, teachers, educators and workers in education are rushed back into school without the safety precautions in place, the damage thats done will be irreparable and potentially, in many cases, fatal, he said.
Duval school district, teachers union negotiating work conditions
The Duval County School District on Tuesday released its draft plan that goes against the order for some students, at least to start the school year. As some its back-to-school plans come into focus, teachers have been asking what the district plans to do if teachers contract COVID-19. Teachers union representatives have told News4Jax that negotiations surrounding working conditions for teachers are changing daily. Veteran Duval County teacher Sal Castronobo said going back into a school building is too big a risk for his family. News4Jax sent questions to the district asking how the leave plan will work, but its still unclear if the district will add that leave to the sick leave teachers have already accrued.
DeSantis on back-to-school: Parents need to have that choice'
Ron DeSantis spoke about the hot button issue of reopening schools during the fall semester. A little over a week ago, Richard Corcoran, the states education commissioner, issued an order for all schools to reopen for in-person classes during the fall. The order also instructs school districts to follow the advice of state and local health officials as well as executive orders issued by DeSantis. I know a lot of parents are have a lot of anxiety about just the situation, generally, and then of course, whats going to happen with the school year, DeSantis said during the news conference. Starting Aug. 10, middle and high school students will be in-school some days and at-home learning online the other days.
Parents, teachers join motor march to Duval County Public Schools headquarters
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Parents, teachers, and members of the activist groups Duval for a Safe Return to Campus and the Duval Schools Pandemic Solutions Team are holding a motorcade march to the Duval County Public Schools headquarters. The drive began at 6224 St. Augustine Road at 7:30. By 8:30 the group plans to arrive in the parking lot to the school board building at 1701 Prudential Drive. In a release about the protest, organizers wrote:We are rallying to let DCPS, the Florida Department of Education, Commissioner Richard Corcoran, and Governor Ron DeSantis know that we will not reutrn to school campuses until it is safe!For safety purposes, the protesters will be inside several marked cars with red balloons guided by state marshals. Participants were asked to wear masks and remain socially distant.
Union says Floridas push to reopen schools is rushed
State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran last week issued an order requiring school districts to come up with individual reopening plans by the end of the month. The order also said districts must offer students the option to return to in-person instruction at school five days a week. Hall said thousands of janitors, bus drivers, food service workers and other school workers, represented by AFSCME, are concerned about coming back to work as Florida emerges as the nations epicenter of coronavirus cases. Florida is currently setting new records of coronavirus cases and deaths almost every day, Hall said. Ron DeSantis and Corcoran to come up with a responsible plan that will minimize the risk of spreading the virus at schools.
Facing The Fall: Looking back at a busy week in the education world
Despite some questioning the validity of the order, school districts moved quickly to change plans. Duval County is still working out its plan and is expected to release something in the coming days. Young people also report less tobacco, alcohol and drug use in a survey released Thursday by the Duval County Health Department. File PhotoA special fund has been created to help raise the money needed to rename six Duval County schools that are currently named after prominent Confederate leaders. Also from the TU, the Duval School Board approved a recommendation to reassign 30 Duval County Public Schools principals to new schools ahead of the 2020-21 school year.
CDC to release new guidelines for reopening schools
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The Centers for Disease Control is expected to release new guidelines on how to safely reopen schools next week. The announcement was made shortly after the President said he would insist schools reopen in the fall. But until the CDC issues the new guidelines, officials at Florida school districts say they are in limbo while they simultaneously revise their respective reopening plans. Now, those reopening plans are required to be completed by July 31. Florida school districts have until the end of the month to submit their required reopening plans to the state department of education.
Attorney: Florida education commissioner cant force schools to reopen
School districts across Florida are slightly deviating from an order to reopen schools for face-to-face instruction five days a week. The superintendent in Miami told CNN on Wednesday the district will not reopen schools until the beginning of Phase 2 in that area. Tallahassee attorney and the former legal counsel for the Florida School Boards Association said that under the Florida constitution, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has no authority to force schools to reopen for in-person instruction. When we first saw the emergency order we thought it was an overreach by the commissioner of education, attorney Ronald Meyer said. Duval County Schools said it will be in a position to answer questions for parents and teachers next week.
St. Johns County puts reopening plan on pause after state mandate
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson was ready Tuesday morning to present a detailed reopening plan to the School Board. But with the mandate to reopen school campuses in August handed down Monday evening, the presentation, and any reopening plans, have been put on hold. I really believe itd be wise for me today not to walk through a plan that we dont know if it will align with the state executive order that we received yesterday, Forson said. I dont want to present something and then unwind it, and present it again.School board members Beverly Slough and Patrick Canan were critical of the decision by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to issue the order with just over a month to go until the 2020-2021 school year begins on Aug. 10.
Facing The Fall: School reopening mandate draws concerns, confusion from parents and school districts
St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson was ready Tuesday morning to present a detailed reopening plan to the School Board. St. Johns County School District Reopeing Plan (Copyright 2020 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.) Unsatisfied with reopening plans, more St. Johns County parents are deciding to move their children to full-time virtual school this fall. We spoke to one St. Johns County parent who made the choice to keep her three kids from going back to campuses. Joining him is Digital Reporter Travis Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), a Jacksonville native and former high school sports reporter who has written about race issues and allegations of abuse on university and high school campuses across the country.
Duval schools left scrambling to adjust after state mandate
The Duval County School Board is meeting Tuesday night to try to figure out the next steps. The Duval County plan, however, did not include every school re-opening its doors five days a week. Duval County was planning to release its final plans Tuesday, but the mandate is forcing them to adjust. Never before have we had to open schools during a pandemic, said Duval County School Board Chairman Warren Jones. I dont know any other way to put it, said Patrick Canan, St. Johns County School Board Member.
Florida school reopening plans due in 3 weeks
K-12 Chancellor Jacob Oliva told school district officials that they need to submit reopening plans and agree to all of the points in Corcorans emergency order by July 31. For example, school districts need to assure the Florida Department of Education that they agree to reopen next month and that they will offer the full panoply of services required by law. School districts reopening plans need to include the percentage of students in the district who are projected to continue with distance learning, which schools began using following a statewide shutdown in March. Oliva said the reopening plans do not need to be approved by local school officials prior to being submitted to the state education department. The webinar came on the same day that President Donald Trump said he will be pressuring governors to reopen schools in the fall, even as COVID-19 cases spike in Florida and other parts of the country.
Local control central to Florida’s plan to reopen schools
Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran released the state’s recommendations for school districts to open in the fall, and it has largely been received positively by education groups. Ingram said the key takeaway from the plan is that districts will be able to decide what works best in their area. FEA criticized the plan for its high emphasis on the economic need to return to school, saying that student health should be the top priority. And with the state seeing ten straight days with 1,000 new cases, a fall reopening is far from guaranteed. In the event schools must return to distance learning, the state plan recommends districts use some of the federal funding to ensure all students have access to adequate technology and internet connectivity.
State eases rules on Bright Futures program
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran late Wednesday signed an emergency order that eases some eligibility requirements for awards under the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program. The order said Corcoran found it necessary to take steps such as partly suspending rules and laws that require students to complete volunteer service hours. Such documentation shall be considered as evidence that a student has completed the required number of volunteer service hours for scholarship eligibility, the order said. Depending on the level of the Bright Futures scholarship award, students are required to complete at least 30 hours or up to 100 hours of volunteer service to qualify. The College Board has no scheduled dates for SAT administrations until Aug. 29, according to its website.
Florida education commissioner: ‘We want schools fully open in the fall'
Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced a plan for Florida’s K-12 schools to reopen at full capacity in the fall. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said that’s the recommendation being made to Florida school superintendents. The state said reopening schools will require “locally driven strategies” with help from the Florida Department of Education and local health officials. It wasn’t immediately clear how local school districts plan to proceed after the state released its recommendations. Surveys by school districts in Duval and St. Johns County have found mixed opinions about a return to school campuses.
Coronavirus: Florida supplies 32,000 laptops to rural school districts
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida is delivering more than 32,000 laptops to school districts throughout the state in an effort to keep up with the demand from students now learning from home. The 32,614 laptop computers are being routed to 34 mostly small, rural school districts as well as the Florida A&M University Developmental Research School, the governor’s office said. According to the statement, the computers are being given to low-income families based on needs identified when the state shifted last month to distance learning. “Florida is truly raising the bar for distance learning,” Gov. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said the distribution of these laptops is yet another demonstration of Florida’s commitment to closing the achievement gap.
Florida drops Common Core standards in favor of new benchmarks
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s official: Common Core is no more in Florida. The Florida Department of Education announced on Friday that it’s scrapping the education standards, a polarizing set of milestones for student achievements in English language arts and mathematics. “Florida has officially eliminated Common Core,” Gov. “I truly think this is a great next step for students, teachers, and parents. Standards were made by Florida teachers for Florida students, and I know they will be a great model for the rest of the nation.”State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, who supports the move, said the sweeping change allows Florida to escape “the confines of Common Core."
Education commissioner questions pre-game prayer policies
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As a three-year legal battle continues over the issue, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran wants the Florida High School Athletic Association to reconsider policies that prevented Christian schools from offering a prayer over the stadium loudspeaker before a 2015 state championship football game. “Policies that are overbroad or restrictive may deny students their constitutional right to private religious expression. Cambridge Christian filed the lawsuit against the athletic association, arguing that the decision blocking the use of the loudspeaker for the prayer violated First Amendment rights. The 2015 game that led to the lawsuit involved Cambridge Christian and Jacksonville’s University Christian School. “The state must not censor private religious speech of its students, even where that speech is given at a state-sponsored event or on public property.”
Senators back abolishing Constitution panel
Florida Department of StateTALLAHASSEE, Fla. - An effort to abolish the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, which successfully put seven constitutional amendments before voters in 2018, continued to move forward Monday in the Senate. Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who is sponsoring the proposal, said the commission in 2018 went beyond what voters wanted when the panel was created in the 1960s. Brandes' measure is filed for the 2020 legislative session, which starts Jan. 14. Mary Adkins, a master legal skills professor at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law who has researched the history of the 1968 Florida Constitution, argued against Brandes' proposal during Monday's committee meeting. The Senate during the 2019 session also approved a measure that would have prevented the commission from bundling multiple topics in ballot proposals.
New voucher program draws 18,000 students
Shutterstock/CNNTALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A school-voucher program approved this spring by state lawmakers has drawn 18,000 students in its first year, Gov. The program, known as the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program, is a major expansion of school vouchers and drew heavy debate during the 2019 legislative session. DeSantis and Corcoran touted reaching that cap Friday, saying the program will help low-income and working-class students. "The Family Empowerment Scholarship Program expands education opportunities for families with limited financial resources and places our students in environments where they can thrive," DeSantis said in a prepared statement. Many Democrats, however, have criticized the program, saying it strips money from public schools while requiring little accountability for private schools.
Education commissioner issues final order on monitoring contract
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has issued a final order in a legal dispute about a contract to help monitor social media for threats of violence and other problems in school districts. The protest came after Corcoran in April issued a decision that said he was awarding the contract to NTT Data. A Department of Education negotiating team had recommended awarding the contract to Abacode, which planned to subcontract with ZeroFox. Administrative Law Judge Mary Li Creasy last month ruled that Corcoran had adequate reasons for disregarding the negotiating team's recommendation and awarding the contract to NTT Data. But under administrative law, Creasy's ruling was a recommended order that had to go back to Corcoran for a final order.
Florida Education commissioner predicts teachers will carry guns in 10 years
ORLANDO, Fla. - Floridas Education Commissioner is making some surprising statements about arming teachers. Corcoran was a speaker at the Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition meeting on Sept. 9. In addition to showing his support for arming teachers, he also suggested doing away with school resource officers. News4Jax's sister station in Orlando, WKMG, obtained the audio minutes taken during the Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition meeting earlier this month. "In 10 years, every single school in the state of Florida will have guardian teachers," Corcoran said.
Lawmakers will weigh teacher salaries, bonuses
Yet a number of Republican lawmakers and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran say they want to keep bonuses in teacher-pay discussions during the 2020 session. A few days later, though, the governor told reporters that the framework of the current "Best and Brightest" bonus program is "very complicated," and he may not necessarily want to include the program as part of his teacher-compensation package. The last time lawmakers agreed to an across-the-board teacher pay raise was in 2013, when the Republican-dominated Legislature settled on a $480 million package. He added it would be worthwhile to have discussions with the House and the governor on changing the funding of the bonus program, which has faced legal challenges. A second lawsuit against the bonus program alleges state education officials improperly allowed school districts to deduct employer taxes from teacher bonuses, cutting into the financial awards of tens of thousands of high-performing educators.
Gov. DeSantis seeks more money for job growth
Ken Lawson, executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, said DeSantis is asking for $85 million in the economic-development effort, known as the Job Growth Grant Fund. During the fiscal year that ended June 30, the state received more than 90 proposals requesting more than $530 million in funding. Lawmakers provided $85 million in annual funding for the Job Growth Grant Fund to Scott, an amount that DeSantis also proposed during the 2019 legislative session. Some Democrats also initially criticized the Job Growth Grant Fund, describing it as a "slush fund" that lacked oversight. Under the new budget proposals for 2020-2021, funding for the Visit Florida tourism-marketing agency would remain at $50 million.
Judge sides with Corcoran on contract to help monitor social media for threats
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - An administrative law judge Monday backed Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran in a dispute about a contract to help monitor social media for threats of violence and other problems in school districts. The department negotiation team this spring recommended awarding the contract to Abacode, which planned to subcontract with ZeroFox. But Corcoran on April 15 issued a decision that said he was awarding the contract to NTT Data, concluding that it "provides the best value for the state," according to Creasy's recommended order. Creasy wrote that Corcoran's "decision memorandum articulates reasonable permissible motives" for the department awarding the contract to NTT Data. Under administrative law, Creasy's recommended order will have to go back to the Department of Education for final action.
Education board proposes status quo spending on teacher bonuses
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Department of Education officials latest budget proposal does not include any additional funding for a controversial teacher bonus program, which is currently facing a legal challenge. The funding proposal comes a month after lawyers slapped the state with a lawsuit alleging education officials improperly allowed school districts to deduct employer taxes from employees promised bonuses. Lawyers with the law firm Morgan & Morgan claim state officials shortchanged high-performing teachers and principals out of tens of thousands of dollars. Funding for the bonus program was tucked in the state agencys newly released budget request, which the Board of Education unanimously approved Wednesday. The budget proposal, which outlines the priorities of state education officials, calls on legislators to boost spending for mental health services and school security.
Schools to report on substance abuse instruction
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida public school officials will be required to report to the state their methods of teaching students about substance abuse every year, under a new mandate approved by the state Board of Education on Wednesday. From the time they enter kindergarten to the moment they graduate high school, Florida students are required to take classes on substance use and abuse, according to state law. But Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said his department needs a rule requiring schools to report their plans to the state, to ensure they are meeting the instruction mandate. All we are doing is requiring them to report it, Corcoran said. They dont have to come up with something new.Under the new rule, school districts must report their plans to the Florida Department of Education every year, and explain how they will teach students about youth substance use and abuse.
State education officials seek more money for safety measures
The state agencys budget request, approved by the Florida Board of Education on Wednesday, also contains an additional $1.4 million to maintain school resource officers in each Florida public school. Under sweeping legislation passed shortly after the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting in Parkland, all public schools are required to have trained, armed security personnel onsite. But up until recently, many schools -- particularly charter schools -- have struggled to comply with that requirement. Corcoran acknowledged Wednesday that charter schools have struggled to have armed security certified by the state. The move to increase spending to maintain school safety officers comes days after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission blasted charter schools for not having long-term plans to have armed security on campus.
Florida makes mental health classes mandatory in public schools
Providing mental health instruction is another important step forward in supporting our families.Under the new rule, school districts will be able to choose the types of classes children will be required to take, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters. When asked in late June if the department had done an analysis on whether the new, five-hour instruction requirement would have an impact on time management for other required instruction, Etters did not offer a comment. Rick Scott, said mental health education will be a useful tool for all students. Obviously, this is going to help students who are currently suffering from mental health issues, you know, thoughts of suicide, attempts of suicide. Corcoran suggested more changes related to mental health awareness are in store for Floridas education system, calling the new rule just the beginning.It is going to be a life-saver and it will reduce the stigma, Corcoran said.
Florida's first lady holds session on mental health at First Coast High
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis was in Jacksonville on Monday to talk about her Hope for Healing Florida campaign, which strives to help Floridians struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse. DeSantis was joined by other school leaders at First Coast High School as she held a listening session on those issues. Later this week, as part of the initiative, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran will present a rule that would require five hours of mental health training in schools for grades six through 12. State leaders said the training would also include mental health first aid. DeSantis also held a second listening session Monday at the Hanley Foundation in West Palm Beach.