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Lawyers struggle to advise Florida schools on books

Lawyers struggle to advise Florida schools on books

It’s been no secret that Florida law governing issues such as library book selection has confused educators around the state. Attorneys charged with advising school boards and superintendents have found themselves equally flummoxed. Recently released email chains show school board lawyers struggling to determine whether mere mention of certain words would get districts in trouble. Meanwhile, the state has advised school districts to consult their lawyers if uncertain about what a law means. More from the Tampa Bay Times, WFSU, and the Miami Herald.

Florida school voucher money is flowing again, but delays persist

Florida school voucher funds began trickling in to parent and private school accounts over the weekend, days after complaints surfaced that delayed payments were threatening to derail children’s education. Eighty-six percent of students receiving vouchers for special needs should have access to their money this week, said Scott Kent, a spokesperson for Step Up for Students, the organization that administers the vast majority of voucher applications in the state. Once the group gets proper invoices from the students’ schools, Kent said, Step Up will make the payments. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Judge refuses to block the dues deduction ban, dealing a blow to Florida teachers’ unions

Dealing a blow to teachers unions, a federal judge has refused to block part of a new Florida law that prevents union dues from being deducted from workers’ paychecks. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker on Friday issued a 40-page ruling denying a preliminary injunction sought by the Florida Education Association, the United Faculty of Florida and unions representing employees of the Alachua County, Hernando County and Pinellas County school districts and the University of Florida. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida schools deny DeSantis' accusations of Chinese influence

Four private Central Florida schools are scrambling after Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended their voucher programs and accused them of having "direct ties" to the Chinese Communist Party. They adamantly deny the accusations but nevertheless have to figure out what do with families dependent on those vouchers and even provide increased security as the governor's spotlight creates safety concerns. [Source: Tallahassee Democrat]

Florida Department of Education to review Asian-American and Pacific-Islander history standards

The Florida Department of Education is gearing up for a comprehensive review of academic standards pertaining to Asian-American and Pacific-Islander history, in accordance with recent legislative approvals. Lawmakers have given their nod to new educational requirements, prompting the Department of Education to take action. The state’s education department has set the stage for a series of three meetings to be held in October, constituting a “civics workgroup.” [Source: Action News Jax]


› Robotic dog working on research projects with UCF students and faculty
There's a new four-legged creature that's working on research projects with University of Central Florida students and faculty. A robotic dog named "Tape Measure" is helping the campus prepare for the future of technology. It walks like a dog and rolls like one, too. It may not be as cute as a typical pet, but it's stopping students in their tracks.

› Florida Tech men's rowing may remain varsity sport until at least 2028, per settlement
In a tentative legal settlement, the Florida Institute of Technology has guaranteed to support men’s rowing and men's cross country as varsity sports for at least the next five academic years, through 2027-28. Florida Tech officials abruptly terminated five fall varsity sports programs — men's and women's rowing, men's golf, and men's and women's cross country/distance track — in June 2022 and demoted them to club sports, which receive fewer resources and funding.

› U.S. Department of Education honors Alachua charter school as one of the best
Alachua Learning Academy (ALA) was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday as a National Blue Ribbon Award of Education recipient. The public charter school is one of 353 schools so recognized for 2023. It is one of 14 schools in Florida and the only Alachua County public school to receive this recognition.

› Clay County schools have most banned books of any district in U.S.
When it comes to the number of books banned at schools, Florida leads the nation -- with than double the number of banned books than the second leading state, Texas. In Florida, Clay County School District leads the state. Clay County accounts for a third of Florida’s total -- and most of the books were reported by one man.