The Law Offices Of Steve Rossi P.A.Florida Statewide School Law Representation
"We Will Represent You Anywhere in Florida""Affordable Payment Plans Available"
1-888-447-0568 Spanish and Italian 24 hours a day/7 days a week
View Our Practice Areas

Fort Lauderdale Education Law Blog

Florida Virtual School in a state of chaos

In an article published in The Orlando Sentinel on April 14th, it is quite evident that Florida's virtual school has been, and still is, in crisis. Former Florida governor Rick Scott, who was also a personal friend, instilled top level authority in prominent Orlando attorney Frank Kruppenbacher. That authority created a clash with the school's top executive, Robert Porter. So much, in fact, that Porter made the decision in August 2018 to launch an investigation into Kruppenbacher's conduct on several levels. In an unexpected turn of events, Robert Porter sadly and very unexpectedly passed away from a sudden heart attack last month.

Kruppenbacher maintains that he is the victim of a smear campaign by the school orchestrated by Porter. While there are multiple acts in question, most notable are the accusations that as legal counsel for the school he exercised great influence over which firms and companies won business contracts. One allegation is that a large contract was awarded to his soon to be son-in-law. Employees also allege that he created a culture of fear and intimidation that led them to believe they would lose their jobs if they "crossed" him. This in turn has led to a mass exodus of administrators and other employees. Last week alone, three more resigned. The names of the employees who filed these complaints are protected by the state whistle-blower law. However, their content is available. There are at least a dozen statements by employees regarding the behavior of Kruppenbacher, and concern as to how much authority was being deferred to him by the board. It was almost as if he had the final say on everything.

Florida art teacher suspended for video

A high school art teacher at Western High School in Davie, FL has been suspended for three days in connection with a video she showed to her students. The video, which contained images of nude models, has been called suggestive. The classes that viewed it were creative photography classes, and the teacher admitted that she previewed the video before showing it. She knew that it contained nude images.

The Broward County School Board received an administrative complaint. While the actual name of the video was not included, the students who saw it claimed that the images were a featured collection by a photographer.

Court orders reinstatement of former Florida principal

A federal judge in Fort Myers, FL ordered that a former middle school principal be temporarily reinstated pending the outcome of her case. Collier County Public Schools have decided to return her to a different role titled "administrator on special assignment," rather than her former role of principal at Manatee Middle School. However, her attorney states this could violate the court order.

In May 2016 the principal contacted Collier County Sheriff's Office to report a teacher after she smelled alcohol on her breath. She suspected that the teacher was intoxicated. The state of Florida opened a case and conducted a full investigation of the allegations. After that investigation was complete, the principal is said to have experienced an onslaught of retaliation, as stated in her lawsuit against the school district. She filed that lawsuit in May 2018, claiming that Collier County Public Schools violated her First Amendment rights and the Florida Whistleblower Act.

Changing grades requires faculty communication

Choosing to alter a student’s grade after a low score on a test or assignment is always a controversial subject among teachers. They want their students to succeed to demonstrate that they are learning the material properly and that they are ready for the next step in the learning process.

However, many school faculties are more concerned about the repercussions of low grades than the benefits of high ones. A student failing a class means that they cannot participate in extracurricular activities, advance to the next class or even graduate. It also makes the school look bad and means they’ll might receive some nasty phone calls from the student’s parents soon.

School social workers struggling to pass state teacher test

The Florida Board of Education has proposed a new rule to exempt school social workers from passing a Florida state teacher test, if they hold a state license in social work. The proposed rule change comes after some Florida school social workers lost their jobs due to an inability to pass the teacher test, even though they were non-instructional staff who held higher degrees.

One social worker took the teacher test six times, but was unable to pass the math portion. However, she held a Master's degree, and was a former juvenile probation officer as well as director of a drug treatment program. When Brevard County School District hired her, she was the only social worker at her school. Because she could not pass the math portion of the test, her employment was terminated. In the aftermath of the Parkland school shootings, social workers are needed for students now more than ever. Just last week a Florida teen committed suicide on the campus of an Orlando school, and the father of a student who was killed in the Parkland shootings committed suicide.

Establishing Florida residency for school tuition purposes

Tuition at many Florida colleges is far from cheap, whether paying in-state or out-of-state rates. However, establishing in state residency means a savings of literally thousands of dollars over the course of a college career. Students who wish to establish such have a strict set of statutes and guidelines that must be met.

All students are required to submit documentation proving residency to their college of choice. The type of documentation required depends on whether the student is dependent or independent. Also, potential students who will be new to the state of Florida will require additional documentation. Enrollment in a college within the state is not sufficient for residency purposes.

Florida teacher angers parents with non-approved book

A Florida first-grade teacher, though he will not face any official disciplinary measures, has received strong backlash from parents after reading a controversial book to the class. The book was not part of the school curriculum and was not approved by supervisors prior to the reading.

The book, titled "Last week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo," is a picture book about two gay bunnies. The teacher claimed that he thought it would provide a "positive teaching moment" after overhearing two students discussing two women who wanted to marry each other. It is touted by Common Sense Media as a "cute, funny, and inclusive picture book" with a positive message about celebrating who you are and loving who you want. John Oliver is a comedian, and this book is actually a parody of a book originally authored by Vice President Mike Pence's daughter.

Florida lawmakers aim to have more career education in school

One of the most common complaints that both students and parents have towards high school is how it doesn’t prepare the student enough for what comes after graduation. They are unsure if they want to attend college or not, and some that go may not know what they want to major in right away. By the time they realized they made a mistake in the process, it might already be too late.

Florida’s lawmakers have recognized that this is a major issue and have recently proposed a bill to try and remedy it. This bill was approved unanimously by a House education subcommittee as they believe it will not only satisfy more parents and students, but it will also help fill thousands of jobs Florida needs to improve their economy in the next decade. While the bill hasn’t fully become law yet, parents should learn what changes that the bill’s creators are hoping to put into the schools.

Medical marijuana to be given by parents or caregivers only

The Palm Beach County School District has proposed that only parents or caregivers be allowed to administer medical marijuana on school property. The proposal comes after the school district was sued in February 2019 by a Royal Palm Beach couple who were unable to leave work and return to the school to administer marijuana medication to their epileptic son during the day. The child is prescribed the medication three times per day to control seizures. However, both parents work 45 minutes away and it was their request for school personnel to administer the pills. The policy is set for vote in April 2019.

State law dictates that only parents or caregivers administer medical marijuana, in addition to some other strict guidelines. The child must be listed on the state registry, have a patient identification card on them at all times and would under no circumstance be allowed to share the drug with teachers or other students. However, state law also requires that school districts form their own policies regarding the medication. Therein is where the confusion lies for many families.

Florida sixth grader arrested at Lakeland school

A sixth grade student of Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, FL is facing misdemeanor charges after an incident that took place in the classroom on February 4th. The student is a black male who was under the supervision of a substitute teacher at the time.

The student chose not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, stating that he believes the flag and the national anthem are both racist. The substitute teacher engaged in an exchange of words with the young boy. She first asked him why he did not go to another place to live. Upon his response that "they brought me here," she suggested that he can always go back to where he came from. The situation escalated from there, with the student ultimately being removed from the classroom by a school resource officer from the Lakeland Police Department after he refused to leave voluntarily. Due to alleged threats made against the teacher by the child, he was subsequently charged with a misdemeanor.