The 3-1 vote to fire Abbey Cooke, for a dozen year a highly rated teacher and 2017 Teacher of the Year at Belle Terre Elementary, sent a chilling message to those who would challenge the board, or those who land on any board member’s hostile radar: the slightest misstep can and will be used against them.
Flagler County School Board
The Flagler County Commission Monday evening approved on a 4-0 vote placing a referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot to renew for the third time the school district’s half-penny sales surtax. The vote was not a surprise, though it reflects a shift from Commissioner Joe Mullins, who earlier this month was signaling opposition to the tax.
After declining to arm teachers in the wake of the Parkland massacre in 2018, the Flagler school district’s position may be shifting. The School Board last week agreed to hold a workshop to discuss whether the district should join the “guardian” program–not as a replacement of the sheriff’s deputies, but in addition to it.
There is data on where and how armed personnel are used in school districts across the nation. There is less data on how effective that armed presence has been. That’s not a result of partisanship but simply a matter of fact: little systematic and peer-reviewed research has been carried out on the subject, and what little there is tends to lack the sort of rigor that can be the basis for sound conclusions one way or the other.
Mark McNeill, 60, was arrested in February for driving severely drunk with 40 Buddy Taylor Middle School students aboard. He appeared before a judge on Monday for a plea deal. He was drunk. The judge sent him back to jail. The plea deal is in doubt.
The district insisted the two former assistant superintendents, Bobby Bossardet and Paul Peacock, were not being demoted back to principalships, a claim that was far more credible regarding Bossardet taking over FPC than it was about Peacock, who is taking over Wadsworth Elementary School and whose tenure at the district had been problematic.
Sheriff Rick Staly said the Flagler district prepared to open summer school at Rymfire Elementary with 350 students and no deputy requested. Livid at the possibility in light of the most recent school shooting, he ordered that a school resource deputy be dispatched to the school regardless, and told the district he’d be billing it regardless. The district has since conceded the point.
The percentage of Flagler County 3rd graders achieving a reading level of 3 (out of 5) or above–that is, reading at a satisfactory level–fell to 58 percent, the lowest level in at least seven years of comparable testing results, and down from last year’s 59 percent. Scores had peaked at 69 percent in 2017 and 68 percent in 2019, the year before the pandemic.
The department is accepting bids from companies through June 10 to provide social-studies books for a five-year period starting in 2023. The department posted to its website a 29-page document that lists criteria for what is expected to be included in the books — and what’s expected to be left out.
As they were preparing to roll out early this morning Flagler County schools’ bus drivers got a surprise inspection from members of the Transportation Security Administration, the at-times dreaded federal agency and division of the Department of Homeland Security. It was a quietly pre-arranged safety drill by Transportation Director Dontarrious Rowls through the TSA’s “Security Enhancement Through Assessment” program.