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Fort Lauderdale Education Law Blog

Governor Scott signs HB 7069, the massive and controversial education bill

As we reported last month, the final day of the Florida Legislature's most recent session was anything but uneventful. For proof of this fact, one needn't look any further than the massive 274-page education package -- House Bill 7069.

To recap, HB 7069 was released just days before the end of the session following closed-door budget negotiations. Indeed, owing to its status as a budget bill, it couldn't be amended, meaning lawmakers could only vote for or against it. While it passed, it did so by the slimmest of margins, including a 73 to 36 vote in the House and a 20 to 18 vote in the Senate.

'Unreasonable, aggressive and invasive' police school search brings lawsuit

In a series of ongoing posts, our blog has been discussing the degree to which public school students are protected by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in relation to on-site searches.

Interestingly enough, this very issue is now at the center of a lawsuit filed by nine high school students against the sheriff's department of Sylvester, Georgia, a small town located in the southwestern region of the state. It accuses the department of lacking the authority to have conducted a massive search of the student body this past spring that was "unreasonable, aggressive and invasive" in nature.

What to do if your school loses accreditation

If you are like millions of Americans, you rely on federal student loans and grants to fund your higher education. To be able to receive this financial assistance, you must attend a school that is recognized as an accredited institution by the U.S. Department of Education. To achieve this, colleges and universities must be approved by an accrediting agency.

What happens if the Department of Education stops recognizing an accrediting agency? And how does that affect institutions that have been accredited by that agency, as well as their students?

Passage rate for teacher certification exams remain low

From physicians and attorneys to dentists and accountants, there are certain professions that require practitioners to not just spend years learning, but also pass rather demanding licensing exams once their underlying education is complete.

Another very good example of a challenging vocation to pursue is teaching, as prospective educators must dedicate at least four years to earning their diploma and more time toward earning their certification from the state. Unfortunately, reports indicate that this has perhaps become an unduly difficult endeavor here in the Sunshine State.

Is it time to move away from exclusionary discipline for young students?

In our last post, we concluded an ongoing conversation concerning what Florida law has to say about serious school disciplinary actions such as suspension and expulsion.

There's a very good chance that as you were reading these entries, you envisioned scenarios involving middle school or high school students. It's important to understand, however, that these stringent measures -- referred to as exclusionary discipline -- can be imposed upon not just older students, but their younger counterparts in elementary school and even pre-school.

What state law has to say about suspensions and expulsions -- III

Back in December, our blog began discussing how even though the natural inclination of most parents is to defer to school officials when it comes to disciplinary matters, they should strongly reconsider this approach when it's suspension or expulsion that's being pursued.

That's because not only is so much at stake for the child, but also because there's always the possibility that school officials will fail to follow applicable rules and regulations.

A firm to turn to for help when you can't secure your transcripts, diplomas

There is perhaps nothing more rewarding for any student at any level than the moment they get to march across a graduation stage to secure their diploma. After all, this short walk and handshake is the culmination of years of hard work and a single-minded dedication to building a better future.

Equipped with a transcript, certification and/or diploma, a graduate is free to pursue their interests from securing a job to pursing a higher degree. What happens, however, when the academic institution at which they've logged so many classroom hours and worked so hard decides to withhold this proof of their education?  

Study: School bullying has dropped by more than half since 2005

A new study in the journal Pediatrics found that kids, teachers, school staff and policymakers are aware of the serious harm done by bullying in school. The great news is, the study found that fewer than half as many students reported experiencing bullying in 2014 than had in 2005. These were largely attributed to state anti-bullying laws being passed, more research being funded, evidence-based practices -- and increased awareness of the issues.

According to NPR, the study considered around 250,000 annual survey responses by Maryland fourth through twelfth graders. Students in each grade were asked to say whether they had experienced bullying-type behaviors -- rumors, threats, physical violence or negative posts online -- within the past 30 days. The researchers found significant improvements in most grades.

Legislature passes immense education bill on final day of session

After the gavel marking the end of the Florida Legislature's current session officially sounded on Monday, many lawmakers left Tallahassee feeling less than satisfied not only with the legislation that wasn't passed, but which was also sent to the desk of Governor Rick Scott.

Indeed, one piece of massive legislation negotiated behind closed doors and passed during the waning hours of the session is generating considerable criticism from not just advocacy groups, but lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

Understanding the law as it relates to student searches -- III

In today's post, we'll conclude our ongoing efforts to demonstrate how Fourth Amendment protections in a public school setting are more restricted than both parents and students would perhaps care to imagine.

To recap, school officials need only demonstrate "reasonable suspicion" to justify a search, and the courts use a two-part test to determine whether this was present.