Could disabled children be collateral damage in education bill fight?

The Florida’s Legislature secret effort to steer more money to private charter schools, virtual education and home schooling have resulted in political heat on Gov. Rick Scott to veto the sweeping education bill.

But could disabled children be collateral damage?

The Associated Press reports that tucked in the 300-pages of HB 7069 is $30 million for the Gardiner Scholarship Program that provides tuition, therapy and other services to roughly 8,000 disabled students. By all accounts, it’s a wonderful program that helps autistic and other disabled children.

Gov. Rick Scott

But Scott is under pressure to reject the bill by school superintendents, the state’s teacher union, parent-teacher groups and Democrats. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the leading Republican candidate for governor in 2018, called the legislation a “train wreck.”

GOP lawmakers wrote the bill largely in secret to steer away money from public education. Scott has not indicated what he will do.

Sen. Gary Farmer, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat opposed to the bill, told The AP that legislative leaders crafted the legislation to include the disabled scholarship program in order to make it harder for Scott to veto the bill.

“I was deeply disturbed that (the families of disabled children) were hijacked and used as pawns to mollify opposition to an otherwise bad bill,” Farmer said.

Barbara Beasley, whose 9-year-old daughter receives a Gardiner scholarship, told the AP that lawmakers need to separate out the scholarship program.

“I beg Gov. Scott to order lawmakers back to session to fix their mistakes, separate these items from the bad and push them through,” Beasley said.

To read the full AP story click here.

(Feature image by Christos Doulkeridis through Creative Commons)

A vicious bug is running through this Lake Worth Elementary School

It’s not exactly the plague but some vicious bug is running through Barton Elementary School in Lake Worth that has health officials perplexed.

About 15 teachers and students a day are coming down with a bug that causes nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea and other symptoms.

“We have not identified any organism or any culprit,” said  Tim O’Connor, spokesman for the Health Department in Palm Beach County

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A letter was sent to parents asking to obtain a stool sample of their ill child from the family physician., asking it be inclusive of testing for the highly contagious Norovirus.

The Health Department also delivered stool kits to the school nurse in case parents want to bypass the doctor.

In the meantime, officials are telling students and teachers to wash their hands with soap and water and for any ill child to remain home until symptom free for 48 hours.