School Board’s Whitfield falls off hoverboard, breaks back

School board member Erica Whitfield read with students at Poinciana Elementary in 2015 as part of a Children's Services Council literacy event. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
School board member Erica Whitfield read with students at Poinciana Elementary in 2015 as part of a Children’s Services Council literacy event. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Posted: 6:00 p.m. Thursday, January 12, 2017


Palm Beach County School Board member Erica Whitfield is sitting very still in a recliner at her Lake Worth home, watching “The Crown” on Netflix and hoping that she will be able to move well enough to go to next week’s board meeting — which seems perhaps ambitious since she’s recovering from a broken back.

She stepped on a hoverboard the day after Christmas and fell flat on her back seconds later, shattering a vertebra slightly above her shoulder blades.

See the full story including Whitfield’s account of what went wrong here. 

See what one consumer group has said about the dangers of hoverboards here. 

 

 

 

 

Palm Beach County schools: Five stories this week you can’t miss

The St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)
The St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton.
(Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

A lot happened in Palm Beach County schools this week, from an assistant principal accused by students of sexual harassment to a principal being removed from her position.

Here are the top five stories you need to read in education from this week:

  1. St. Andrew’s School: Worker’s ‘boundary breaches’ prompted sex abuse probe

    1. St. Andrew’s School, embroiled in controversy over a secretive sex abuse inquiry, revealed Thursday that one of its employees had “breached student boundary policies” but said it was unaware of any students who had been sexually abused.
  2. Students say Pahokee High assistant principal sexually harassed them
    1. An assistant principal at Pahokee Middle-Senior High School faces termination after accusations that he groped a female student and asked another one to send him pictures of her legs.
  3. Palm Beach Lakes High principal reassigned from school
    1. Embattled Palm Beach Lakes High School Principal Cheryl McKeever has been transferred from the school after a year of acrimonious battles between her and many of the school’s teachers.
  4. Palm Beach County educator embellishes record, gets top Pittsburgh job

    1. After 18 years as a Palm Beach County school administrator, Anthony Hamlet won the top job in Pittsburgh’s public school system last month with a resume boasting a series of successes at turning around struggling campuses. But some of Hamlet’s claims about his track record in the county’s schools appear to be misstatements or exaggerations, The Palm Beach Post has found.
  5. Report: Palm Beach County schools need $1.2 billion in “critical” repairs

    1. It will cost Palm Beach County’s public school system nearly $1.2 billion to make all of the “critical” repairs needed for its growing backlog of deteriorating buildings and equipment at 196 school facilities, a new school district report concludes.

BREAKING: PBC Commission, school board members approve new sales tax plan

Palm Beach County Commissioners vote 5-2 to eliminate economic development incentives and construction projects at cultural institutions from the split of money collected by a proposed sales tax increase during a public hearing at the Palm Beach County Governmental Center in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 1, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County Commissioners vote 5-2 to eliminate economic development incentives and construction projects at cultural institutions from the split of money collected by a proposed sales tax increase during a public hearing at the Palm Beach County Governmental Center in West Palm Beach, Florida on March 1, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

During a joint meeting to smooth over differences, Palm Beach County commissioners and school board members agreed on a joint plan to raise the county’s 6-cent sales tax by a penny on the dollar.

Commissioners and school board members had previously agreed on the broad outlines of the tax increase, which would generate $2.7 billion over 10 years for repairs to roads, bridges, schools and county buildings. School board members expressed concern, however, when commissioners changed the plan, stripping out a combined $161 million in funding for cultural projects and for economic development incentives.

On Tuesday at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth campus, commissioners and school board members agreed to a revised plan, which includes a provision to end the tax early if $2.7 billion is generated earlier than 10 years.

What projects could be funded with from sales tax revenue?

Palm Beach County-wide projects, including county buildings

Municipalities’ projects, including roads and bridges

Palm Beach County schools, including repairing aging school buildings

>>RELATED: Full coverage of the proposed sales tax

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later for more on this story.

-Wayne Washington

Indicted school board member Mike Murgio resigns

Mike Murgio
Mike Murgio

One day after his federal indictment, Palm Beach County School Board member Mike Murgio resigned Friday, saying that remaining in office after his arrest in connection with a bribery scheme could “create a distraction” for the county’s public school system.

Murgio, a veteran educator in his first term on the school board, announced in letters to Gov. Rick Scott and the board’s chairman that he was stepping down effective immediately. Murgio’s attorney said he would also drop his reelection bid.

“I do recognize that the personal situation that I am presently going through may create a distraction to my fellow board members or the Palm Beach County School District,” Murgio wrote.

The move was the latest fallout since Murgio was arrested by FBI agents Thursday morning.

The 65-year-old retired principal is charged with participating in a bribery scheme to aid an illegal money-transfer business, one allegedly operated by his son and owned by an Israeli accused of masterminding the largest hacking case in U.S. history.

Click here to read our full story.

Two high school teachers to be fired for inappropriate acts in class

SAVE-classroomPalm Beach County’s public school system is moving to fire two high school teachers after allegations of inappropriate behavior in the classroom.

Scott Erich Landstrom, who was a Suncoast High School physics teacher last year, is being recommended for termination after parents complained a year ago that he made inappropriate comments in class, including using the word “whore” during a lesson, school district records show.

Landstrom previously had been reprimanded for making inappropriate comments to students, records show.

Edwardo Zamora, a Forest Hill High School drama teacher last year, is being recommended for termination after complaints that he inappropriately touched several of his students.

According to a school district report, the allegations “included groping, touching, biting and sexual jokes.”

During an investigation, Zamora denied any wrongdoing, records show.

Superintendent Robert Avossa has recommended that both teachers be fired. School board members are expected to consider the recommendation today.

Bus drivers, teachers, school staff set to see raises; Board vote tonight

 

 

060713 met school bus 2Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa is expected to announce the district has reached agreements that will land its employees – from bus drivers to principals – raises for this year.

This morning, the contracts were posted to today’s school board agenda under new business. The one contract not posted by 1:50 p.m. was the Classroom Teachers Association, but union President Kathi Gundlach says that those negotiations have also ended in a raise that averages 3.1 percent and also gives teachers more money when they tutor, do in-service work and when they work at schools where students face the additional challenge of poverty and in schools with low grades from the state.

Update: The teacher raises are to be retroactive to July 2015, Gundlach said.

For others, in the most general terms, the raises appear to be 3 percent dating back to January 2015, with some exceptions. They cover everyone from interpreters for the deaf to principals and secretaries.

Notably, the base pay for bus drivers would go to $14 an hour, that’s an increase of $1.63. The district’s transportation was hit hard this fall with a double whammy: a new computerized route system that doled out impossible routes to drivers and a stable of drivers that was 50 to 75 drivers short. Both the superintendent and the drivers pointed to low salaries as part of the problem.