A daily round-up of education news and views for the Lone Star State
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 Principal News
 A daily round-up of education news and views for the Lone Star State To add a recipient please click here
Tuesday, 23rd November 2021




Parkland families to be compensated for FBI’s inaction

The families of most of those killed and wounded in Florida's Parkland school shooting tragedy of 2018 have reached a multi-million dollar settlement with the federal government over the FBI’s failure to stop the gunman - even though it had received information he intended to attack. Attorneys said the settlement’s details are confidential but a person familiar with the deal said the government will pay the families $127.5m overall. Nikolas Cruz, now 23, pleaded guilty last month to 17 counts of first-degree murder. He will receive either a death sentence or life in prison.

CNN  New York Times  Politico 


Education community celebrated with awards

Dallas ISD's Michael Hinojosa has been recognized as Superintendent Of The Year as part of the K-12 Dive Awards 2021. A study of large districts’ National Assessment of Educational Progress scores released by that organization in June found Dallas had improved in 4th- and 8th-grade math, as well as in 8th-grade reading. In 2019, Dallas dropped from 43 schools under state watch for takeovers during his tenure to just four. Though Hinojosa acknowledges that some decisions made "on the fly" early in the pandemic got him in a little trouble with the school board, he contends that crises demand command decisions. “Typically, I make consensus decisions and get a lot of people involved,” Hinojosa asserts. Suburban Columbia’s Richland School District Two in South Carolina, which focuses on "innovation and school improvement initiatives to create equity and opportunity for all students," was named School District of the Year. The nearly 28,000-student district was commended for rethinking grading policies with equity at the forefront, focusing on magnet programs for specialized education experiences, and offering innovative hands-on learning opportunities via the Richland Two Institute of Innovation incubator program. The Principal of the Year accolade was awarded to Jessica Cabeen of Ellis Middle School in Minnesota. Central to her approach has been engaging staff in professional development book studies and other work to better understand brain development during the middle school years, recognizing students are undergoing big growth milestones and that their behavior might not reflect where they are at cognitively due to the influence of hormones and other factors.

K12 Dive 


Catholic schools enjoy reverse in enrolment declines

Catholic schools across the country are seeing increases in enrolments this autumn. The National Catholic Educational Association is still collecting and analyzing the latest pupil data, but its preliminary numbers show increases in most dioceses. Falls in pupil numbers of a couple of percentage points a year have been the norm for years however. The number had fallen from a peak in the early 1960s, when Catholic schools had 5.2 million pupils, to around 1.6 million last year.

The Economist 


SmarterSelect exposed personal data of students

Education software company SmarterSelect, which provides a platform for managing the application process for scholarships, exposed the personal data of thousands of applicants because of a misconfigured Google Cloud Storage bucket. Cybersecurity firm UpGuard found that the data included documents such as academic transcripts, resumes and invoices for approximately 1.2 million applications to funding programs, dated from November 2020 to September 21 2021. One folder hosted on the public bucket hosted 23,000 spreadsheets and 8,000 ZIP files, which contained contact information like name, email address and phone number, as well as much more probing details such as parents’ education and income, the students’ performance at school, student photos where required for application, and financial documents such as Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms that, in some cases, included full Social Security numbers, proof of COVID-19 vaccinations and descriptions of hardships.



Workforce challenges 'tempering' vaccine mandates

While vaccine requirements have definitely "moved the needle" in terms of getting more shots in arms, school districts nationwide, many of whom are battling against huge staffing challenges, are now backing off their initial plans to dole out consequences to those who refuse to get vaccinated. “As school districts struggle to fill full-time positions and struggle to find substitutes, it’s really, really difficult to move forward with a vaccine mandate that would end up terminating teachers,” says Bradley Marianno, an assistant professor of educational policy and leadership at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Oregon, Washington state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have ordered all school staff to get vaccinated, while eight additional states have said educators must either get vaccinated or undergo regular testing. An Education Week analysis found however that only four states with such mandates, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Washington, have actually shared the overall percentage of district employees who are vaccinated, along with D.C. and Puerto Rico.

Education Week 




Argyle ISD elementary rezoning meeting to take place

Argyle ISD plans to hold a special meeting next week at which it will consider approving new elementary school zoning districts. This comes ahead of the opening of the district’s third elementary school next year, to be located in Canyon Falls.

The Cross Timbers Gazette 


Lockhart ISD attendance levels causing financial issues

Lockhart ISD's daily average attendance has recently been below 90%, with Superintendent Mark Estrada stating: “If we were to continue on with the same pace of our attendance for the rest of the school year, we would be on track to lose over $3m, which would be a substantial amount of funding to lose." Funding in the state is linked to student attendance rates.

Lockhart Post-Register 


Retention stipend approved by Bullard ISD Board of Trustees

The Bullard ISD Board of Trustees has approved a $1,000 retention stipend for all regular staff members, with Superintendent Dr. Jack Lee stating: “I want to thank our Board of Trustees for the overwhelming commitment to our staff. We are fortunate to have a school board that wants to ensure all employees are supported in their work.” He went on: “This increase in our retention stipend was one step in working throughout the strategic plan. While the ESSER funds are one-time funds, our administration team is committed to annually evaluating and improving retention bonuses as much as possible.”

Jacksonville Daily Progress 


Award for Caney Creek High School counselors

The counseling department at Caney Creek High School has received a gold award from The Lone Star State School Counselor Association. Tiffany Rhodriquez, lead councilor at the school remarked: “The way I look at it is we're winning for students. Basically, we are implementing a data-driven, results oriented, comprehensive school counseling program. What does that mean? That means that we're being intentional about the work that we do.”

Houston Chronicle 


Student demonstration ends in arrests and tasering

Little Elm school district’s superintendent Daniel Gallagher plans to hold a listening session at Little Elm High School later this month after a student demonstration resulted in students being pepper-sprayed and tased. He stated: "I want to assure you that our Board of Trustees, District administration, and the administration at Little Elm High School are focused on student safety and restoring public trust.”

Dallas News  Star-Telegram 


Castleberry district student accused of assaulting teacher

A video has surfaced of a student at a school in the Castleberry school district in the Fort Worth area slapping a teacher and making reference to her race. The district released a statement saying: “... the District is currently conducting its own investigation, including reviewing video footage and taking statements of those present. Castleberry ISD will follow the law in allocating appropriate discipline."

Chron.com  Star-Telegram 


Garland ISD classes registration opens

Garland ISD community members will be able to take evening classes which can aid them in obtaining citizenship, as well as a General Educational Development diploma and English classes. In-person classes will take place at Bradfield Elementary and Daugherty Elementary.

Allen American 


Carroll ISD addressing effects of House Bill 3979

Southlake city councilman Ronell Smith writes in the Dallas Morning News on how teachers and administrators in Carroll ISD, as well as others throughout North Texas, are dealing with new state law House Bill 3979, and how it affects classroom instruction. He notes that "On Aug. 3, 2020 a divided CISD Board of Trustees voted to receive an overreaching and flawed 'cultural competence' plan, which had prompted a cauldron of conflicting visions within the community, as parents squared off online and at board meetings."

Dallas News 

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