Florida Department of Education Website Highlights Parental Rights, COVID Guidance

Recent website updates by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), under the recently appointed Commissioner of Education – Senator Manny Diaz, puts a focus on parental rights and COVID guidance.

Diaz’s appointment was announced by the State Board of Education on April 29, 2022.

The website update provides a link at the top of the FDOE home page called “Featured Topics.” The top featured topics listed under the link are “Parental Rights” and COVID-19.

Under the “Parental Rights” tab is a message that states, “Florida is taking bold steps to protect parental rights and ensure the lawfulness of instructional materials. If you believe you have found unlawful materials in your school or you are just unsure how to voice your concerns, please see the helpful information below.”

The “Parental Rights” page lists contact information to share concerns directly with FDOE or with a school’s principal. A link on the page lists contacts for all public school principals in the 67 school districts.

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Florida Department of Education Website Highlights Parental Rights, COVID Guidance

Recent website updates by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), under the recently appointed Commissioner of Education – Senator Manny Diaz, puts a focus on parental rights and COVID guidance.

Diaz’s appointment was announced by the State Board of Education on April 29, 2022.

The website update provides a link at the top of the FDOE home page called “Featured Topics.” The top featured topics listed under the link are “Parental Rights” and COVID-19.

Under the “Parental Rights” tab is a message that states, “Florida is taking bold steps to protect parental rights and ensure the lawfulness of instructional materials. If you believe you have found unlawful materials in your school or you are just unsure how to voice your concerns, please see the helpful information below.”

The “Parental Rights” page lists contact information to share concerns directly with FDOE or with a school’s principal. A link on the page lists contacts for all public school principals in the 67 school districts.

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Florida Education Rule on Gender Identity Ignores Federal Guidance, Requires Parental Notification

The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) announced on July 25 that they intend to proceed with a proposed rule requiring school districts to adopt a policy that provides parental notification related to the logistic of overnight field trips.

The regulation is being implemented to align FDOE’s policies with Florida’s Parental Bill of Rights law passed in 2021.

Under the law, FDOE is required to review and update “school counseling frameworks and standards; educator practices and professional conduct principles and any other student services personnel guidelines” to align with the new law by June 30, 2023.

Two LGBTQ rights groups, Equality Florida and Family Equality, filed suit in federal court in March, arguing the Parental Bill of Rights law is unconstitutional. Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor to throw out the case last month.

The new FDOE rule requires notification to parents, including details such as “the nature of the field trip, the dates and times, specific locations and types of establishments to be visited, modes of transportation and method of student supervision provided, such as anticipated number of chaperones.”

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Governor DeSantis: Florida School Grades Better Than Expected

After a break from grades in the 2020-21 school year, a report from the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) shows 2021-22 Florida school grades are trending up.

A press release from Governor Ron DeSantis noted that “Florida’s schools performed much better than expected due to policies that kept schools open and kept students in the classroom.”

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Governor DeSantis: Florida School Grades Better Than Expected

After a break from grades in the 2020-21 school year, a report from the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) shows 2021-22 Florida school grades are trending up.

A press release from Governor Ron DeSantis noted that “Florida’s schools performed much better than expected due to policies that kept schools open and kept students in the classroom.”

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DeSantis Restores Funding for Rogue School Districts

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) restored the standard amount of funding for 12 school districts who defied state law and imposed mask mandates during the last school year. The districts were previously ineligible for approximately $200 million across all 12 districts.

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Gov. DeSantis Recommends New Florida Education Commissioner

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) recommended Florida State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. (R – Hialeah Gardens) to succeed current Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. Corcoran himself was a former Florida House Speaker who is seeking to spend time with family and announced his resignation effective at the end of April.

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Florida Rejects 41 Percent of Submitted Math Books over CRT, Other Issues

The Florida Department of Education is rejecting more than 40% of the mathematics textbooks submitted to be used in the upcoming school year, citing critical race theory, Common Core and other language included in them that violate the state’s new standards.

“Reasons for rejecting textbooks included references to Critical Race Theory (CRT), inclusions of Common Core, and the unsolicited addition of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in mathematics,” the department said in a news release.

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Emails Show School District Officials – Funded by Taxpayers – Teamed with Equality Florida to Advocate for LGBTQ Issues

Emails from a Florida Capital Star information request show that Florida school officials in districts across the state have been recruited by Equality Florida to promote LGBTQ issues.

Equality Florida is a left-wing political group that advocates for civil rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBQT+) residents in Florida. The group has come out against the current Parental Rights in Education bill now being considered in the Florida Legislature.

The emails, covering 2016 to 2020, show how De Palazzo, the Safe & Healthy Schools director for Equality Florida, engaged one school district official form Leon County to help with Equality Florida’s mission.

In 2016, Palazzo reached out to Dr. Kathleen Rodgers and wrote “I am working and meeting in about 20 school districts and would be happy to assist your district as well in the form of direct service, meeting with teams, etc. A friendly reminder that there is no fee for service because I know that budgets are tight and for this important subject, fees could be a deterrent.”

Later emails indicate Rodgers became part of what Palazzo often referred to as a “team”

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Nikki Fried Includes Left-Wing LGBT Resources on Florida Agriculture Website

After the Florida Capital Star broke the story regarding the Florida Department of Education’s (FDOE) removal of LGBT bullying resources from left-wing groups, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) repurposed resources and posted them to the Florida Department of Agriculture (FDACS) site.

Many of the resources consist of anti-bullying resources, though not all are expressly described as “LGBT” anti-bullying resources. However, the main heading of the site designates the links as being categorized as “LGBTQ+” as well as providing a brief timeline of Fried’s efforts to advocate for the LGBT community as agriculture commissioner.

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Florida Department of Education Begins Website Review Based on Florida Capital Star Report

Based on a report by the Florida Capital Star, the Florida Department of Education (DOE) has initiated a review of all links on the FDOE website “to make sure information is relevant, current, and appropriate.”

A report by the Florida Capital Star found that there were external links on the FDOE webpage related to bullying that redirected users to left-wing advocacy groups promoting controversial gender policies. After the report, FDOE officials took down the webpage.

Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried criticized the DeSantis administration for FDOE taking down the webpage. Fried said the move was dangerous for students.

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Gov. DeSantis Defends Parental Rights, Criticizes Political Advocacy in Florida Classrooms

After the Florida Capital Star uncovered the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) removed links and resources to LGBT advocacy groups, notable Florida progressives chimed in to criticize the FDOE and the Gov. Ron DeSantis administration.

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Florida Department of Education Takes Down Web Page with External Links to LGBTQ Advocacy Groups

After The Florida Capital Star sought comment from officials about a web page with hyper-links to LGBTQ advocacy groups on the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) website, the web page was removed.

FDOE officials told The Florida Capital Star that the content on the web page was under review.

The Florida Capital Star also found that at least one Florida school district was using the presence of the resources on the FDOE web page as justification for certain LGBTQ school activities.

When asked to provide the school policies that support advocacy of LGBTQ issues in middle schools, the Leon County School District provided a link to the FDOE web page with the external links  to LGBTQ advocacy groups.

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Florida School Districts Drop Mask Mandates, End Legal Challenges

As the recent COVID wave in Florida recedes, all school districts that previously enforced mask mandates in Florida have dropped their masks requirements.  In addition, a number of school districts that chose to challenge the Department of Health (DOH) rule that banned mask mandates have decided to end their legal challenges to the rule.

Back in October, the Leon County School District – home to the state capitol –  ended a mask mandate policy with a parental opt-out provision. The decision came after the district was found to be violating the DOH rule.

Following the Leon County decision, the Broward County School District voted to remove its mask mandates for all school levels effective November 20th.

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Biden Administration Warns Florida About Penalties for Mask Mandates

After the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) proposed to ramp up punishment for school boards enforcing mask mandates, the Biden Administration warned them on Monday to “reconsider” their “threatened actions.”

On October 7th, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced his proposal to prevent school boards from receiving federal funding from the Project to Support America’s Families and Educators grant program – or “Project SAFE” – that provides funding to school districts that are financially penalized for implementing CDC guidelines such as mask mandates.

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Sarasota County School Board Removes Black Lives Matter Reference

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has been removed from the Sarasota County School district’s fifth-grade curriculum in accordance to the Florida Department of Education’s ban on critical race theory (CRT) that was passed in June.

Sarasota parents with fifth-grade students received a letter from the FDOE this week discussing the change of a “reading passage” in the students’ textbook, but did not directly mention Black Lives Matter as the subject of removal.

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Florida Department of Education Will Withhold Salaries from Alachua and Broward School Boards

In an announcement made by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) on Monday, the Department said it will officially withhold monthly salaries of school boards in Alachua and Broward counties for issuing mask mandates for their students in violation of state law.

In July, Governor DeSantis signed an executive order banning school boards and districts from placing mask mandates in Florida schools, referencing the Parents’ Bill of Rights that DeSantis established in the 2021 legislative session.

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Florida Board of Education to Have Emergency Meeting on Defiant School Districts

The Florida Board of Education is scheduling an emergency meeting on August 17 to discuss Alachua and Broward school districts regarding their mask mandates which go against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order banning mask mandates.

Earlier in the week, withholding salaries was a possible ramification, but after DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education slightly backtracked on the issue, their focus is now just funding cuts for the defiant districts. But, where the funding cuts come from is up to the school district.

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Despite Criticism, Florida Governor DeSantis Awards Bonus Checks

Governor DeSantis held three ceremonies in the state of Florida Tuesday, awarding first responders and educators with $1,000 bonuses from the for their hard work and dedication through the pandemic.

In addition to first responders’ work through the pandemic, DeSantis’ first ceremony was held in Surfside for search-and-rescue task force members who helped in the aftermath of the Champlain Tower collapse. The last two ceremonies were in Jacksonville and Pensacola respectively.

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Florida Officials Defying Mask Optional Rule Could Have Salary Suspended

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is reminding officials who are defying his executive order banning mask mandates in Florida’s schools, they could have funding withheld or the superintendents and school board members who impose the mandate could have their salaries suspended. DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw reminded the noncompliant school districts of the possible ramifications:

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Florida Department of Education Data Shows Surge in Homeschool Students

Homeschoolers

Data from the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) for the 2020-2021 school year shows a significant increase in the number of students who were enrolled in home education, which the Department believes is “direct result” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not counting public school students who opted to learn virtually, 143,431 students were homeschooled during the 2020-2021 school year, representing a 35.2% increase from the 106,115 students from the 2019-2020 school year.

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Florida Might Allow School Vouchers for Children to Avoid Mask Mandates

The Florida Board of Education (BOE) is holding an emergency meeting today to consider a proposal to allow families to use their own tax dollars as school vouchers so they can transfer their children out of school districts requiring COVID-related procedures.

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed their tune, once again, and is recommending face masks for all children in K-12 schools, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning mask mandates in Florida’s schools.

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Florida Standards Assessments Results Show Decline in Math and English

Close up of a pencil on top of a multiple choice exam paper

The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) released the 2021 Florida Standards Assessments (FSAs) scores Thursday, which showed a decline in passing scores for students in both English and math.

 The 2021 scores are in comparison to the 2019 scores, given the fact that the FSAs were not administered in spring 2020 due to school closures at the beginning of the pandemic. 

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Governor DeSantis Signs Executive Order Banning Mask Mandates in Florida Schools

Governor DeSantis praised Florida parents’ “freedom to choose” before signing an executive order (EO 21-175) Friday, stopping Florida schools from issuing mask mandates for students.

The executive order cites HB 241, known as the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” that expanded upon the rights parents have regarding their children’s education, health, and upbringing. For example, the decision to not make their kids wear a mask. 

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Florida Department of Education Adopts New Education Standards

The Florida Department of Education (DOE) adopted new education standards regarding how topics like Holocaust Education, Civics and Government, Character Education, and Substance Abuse Prevention, will be taught in schools.

In the press release on Wednesday, the DOE stated that the new standards are set to strengthen Florida’s education standards which are already “nationally recognized.”

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U.S. Department of Education Questions DeSantis Teacher Bonus Plan

Th U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has questioned Governor Desantis’ announcement to give Florida teachers a $1,000 bonus for returning to the classroom for the upcoming school year.

On Wednesday, the USDOE sent a letter to Florida Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran, that claimed the approved bonuses do not fit the eligible guidelines set by federal agency, as reported by the Associated Press (AP). 

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