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EduClips: From a Post-Parkland Security Mandate in Broward County to Charter Growth in Houston, School News You Missed This Week From America’s 15 Biggest Districts

By The 74 | August 16, 2019

EduClips is a roundup of the week’s top education headlines from America’s 15 largest school districts, where more than 4 million students across eight states attend class every day. Read previous EduClips installments here.

Broward County — Fort Lauderdale-Area Charters Lack State-Mandated Police Officers: Up to 29 schools in the district — all charters — lack state-mandated armed security officers. State officials implemented the requirement in the wake of the 2018 shooting massacre at a Parkland high school that left 17 dead. Given the imminent start of the school year, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony agreed to cover the schools temporarily. Ryan Petty, a member of the state commission that investigated the mass shooting, urged Superintendent Robert Runcie to account for the schools’ failure to provide proof of having armed guards.“If they can’t produce a contract or evidence, then he ought to, as the leader of the district, revoke their charters,” said Petty, whose daughter Alaina was killed in the attack. “Immediately.” (Read at the Sun-Sentinel)

Fairfax County — Jury Sides With School Board in Band Trip Sexual Harassment Case: An eight-member jury found that the Fairfax County School Board is not responsible for sexual harassment during a 2017 high school band trip. While it found that the girl was sexually harassed to the extent that the experience deprived her of educational access, it concluded that the board did not have “actual knowledge” of what occurred on the Oakton High School band trip. In an interview with the Washington Post, one juror said the panel was evenly split and was leaning in the girl’s favor until the judge reminded them that they needed “direct evidence” that school officials knew she had been harassed. (Read at The Washington Post)

Orange County — Orlando Legislator Introduces Voucher Anti-Discrimination Bill: A new bill filed by an Orlando legislator would ban schools that discriminate based on “race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity,” according to Orlando Weekly. Private schools across Florida currently receive millions of dollars in private vouchers, and some refuse to admit homosexual or disabled students. Trinity Christian Academy in Deltona, for example, can expel students for being gay and has an official policy that they must have “no emotional disorders” or conditions like autism, Asperger’s or Down syndrome, according to the article. Under the bill from Rep. Anna Eskamani, schools that refuse to change discriminatory policies will have their fund payments suspended or lose their eligibility altogether. (Read at Orlando Weekly)

New York City — Experts Question De Blasio Debate Claim on Lead Paint: In a presidential debate last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio trumpeted his administration’s commitment to “literally ending the notion of lead poisoning.” That occurred not long after officials found that nearly 1,000 New York City classrooms had peeling lead paint last month. According to five experts who spoke to Chalkbeat, the district’s plan “stops far short” of the mayor’s expansive promise to eliminate lead exposure. “Even when procedures are followed correctly, students may be in classrooms for weeks or months before a custodian is required to conduct a visual inspection,” according to the article. “And the city does not test proactively for lead dust, the most common source of lead exposure related to paint, which can be present even without any visible signs of deterioration.” (Read at Chalkbeat)

Houston — IDEA Charters Plan Big Growth Spurt: Twenty years after opening its first charter schools in Texas, IDEA Public Schools is coming to Houston. It plans to open four schools in the city in 2020 and a total of 20 by 2026, part of its larger goal of enrolling 100,000 children in Texas and other states by 2022. Calling it “arguably the hottest charter school network in Texas,” Houston Public Media said IDEA won a $117 million grant earlier this year, the largest ever for charter school expansion. “It’s drawn both excitement and skepticism from parents — and concern among some traditional school districts, like Houston, about competition for student enrollment,” according to the article. (Read at Houston Public Media)

Noteworthy Essays & Reflections

SCHOOL FUNDING — Four new studies bolster the case: More money for schools helps low-income students (Read at Chalkbeat)

PRE-K Laboratories of Democracy: Washington, D.C., showed how to do universal pre-K right (Read at Vox)

SATS Big Promises, Big Data: Is the SAT’s New ‘Environmental Context’ Score a Tool to Personalize College Admissions, or Another Impersonal Data Point? (Read at The74Million.org)

YOUTH VOTE — The Data Are In: Teenage Voting Hit ‘Historic’ High in 2018 Midterms (Read at Education Week)

ED POLICY — It’s a New School Year. What Should Be the Big Education Policy Issues? (Read at Forbes)

Quotes of the Week

“Rich kids go to therapy, poor kids go to jail.” —Melivia Mujica, a student activist in San Antonio. (Read at The74Million.org)

“I know for a fact I made the wrong choice. It already broke our hearts saying no to that question. … There’s not a step they handled well. There isn’t a chance to assign culpability to the school system.” —Alexander Walsh, a member of a jury that found that the Fairfax County School Board had no “actual knowledge” of a girl’s sexual harassment during a 2017 band trip and was therefore not liable. (Read at The Washington Post)

“Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” —Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. (Read at Politics K-12)

“This computer has been frozen. This computer can no longer be used. This computer can no longer access the internet. Files saved on the hard drive can no longer be accessed. This computer’s whereabouts can be traced.” —A message that appeared on laptops for students at Georgia Cyber Academy, which is engaged in a dispute with K12 Inc. (Read at The74Million.org)

“Some of you are sad. This is me and my girls. We will be juuuuuuust fine.” —Sign left by four mothers in Minneola, Florida, to mark the first day of school, which they celebrated with wine and donuts. (Read at Fox News Orlando)

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