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School shelters open across west Florida as Hurricane Idalia threatens

Nov 24, 2023

The big story: Schools across western Florida are closed Tuesday morning, as the area prepares for the arrival of Hurricane Idalia, perhaps as a major category 3 storm. See a statewide list of closures on the Florida Department of Education website.

Several are converting to shelters for coastal residents living in mandatory evacuation zones. They offer safety, but with fairly spartan amenities.

Other planned school-related events also are canceled, including a State University System Board of Governors meeting and interviews with the three finalists for New College of Florida president.

Some parents are growing worried about their kids who they just dropped off at universities in the storm’s projected zone, WPTV reports.

Get the latest hurricane news from the Tampa Bay Times.

African American studies: Newly released document show the depth to which Florida officials pressed to sanitize the College Board’s Advanced Placement African American studies course, the Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau reports. • Trevor Packer, head of AP program, discussed his organization’s disputes with Florida in an interview with Education Week.

Book challenges: The authors of “And Tango Makes Three” amended their lawsuit about book banning in Florida schools to include the Escambia County school district, News Service of Florida reports. • Activists in Indian River County said they plan to re-challenge several books they find unacceptable, which the school district previously reviewed and retained, WPTV reports.

Discipline: The Broward County School Board is set to consider ending its arrest diversion program, which came under fire after it was revealed that the 2018 Parkland school shooter participated but did not complete it, WLRN reports.

School rankings: US News and World Report issued its annual ranking of high schools, with the majority of Florida’s top-rated schools being in south Florida, the Palm Beach Post reports.

From the court docket ... Prosecutors have decided not to formally investigate allegations that former Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie and two associates used information about a ransomware attack against the district for personal gain, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

New College: Students are trying to adjust to the many changes at New College of Florida as the fall semester begins, the Herald-Tribune reports.

President searches: New information indicates that Florida Atlantic University’s use of non-disclosure agreements in conducting its president search mirrored efforts of the University of Florida’s 2022 search, News Service of Florida reports.

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Security: Bethune-Cookman University leaders reminded students and staff to take security seriously in light of the racially-motivated shooting that took place near Edward Waters University, another HBCU in Jacksonville, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. Gov. Ron DeSantis committed $1 million to Edward Waters for enhanced security, the Miami Herald reports.

Strategic planning: A proposal by UF president Ben Sasse has raised concerns among students and faculty, the Independent Florida Alligator reports. The plan calls for changes in tuition, programs and professor evaluations.

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

Before you go ... In case you need any reminders why evacuating coastal areas when hurricanes approach is a good idea.

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Every Thursday, get the latest updates on what’s happening in Tampa Bay area schools from Times education reporter Jeffrey S. Solochek. Click here to sign up.

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