Gov. Ron DeSantis devoted a sizable portion of his State of the State speech Tuesday to education policy and education-related rhetoric. He spoke about raising teacher salaries, investing more in vocational programs, and giving parents more power over their children’s education.
“We have worked hard to keep schools open,” DeSantis said, speaking about his administration’s efforts during the pandemic.
His speech was watched with interest by educators around the state, including Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
“There is quite a bit of rhetoric, incendiary rhetoric in addition to a lot of gaslighting over issues that do not reflect the tone, the tenor, the conscience of educators across the state of Florida,” Carvalho said, describing the governor’s speech.
Carvalho was primarily referring to DeSantis mentioning critical race theory, and his assertion that parents don’t have input into what their children are being taught in school. Carvalho points out that state law already allows parents to review and comment on any curriculum additions before they are adopted by school boards.
“Florida has enacted a Parents’ Bill of Rights and we reject the notion that parents shouldn’t have a say in what their kids learn in school. Indeed, Florida law should provide parents with the right to review the curriculum used in their children’s schools. We should provide parents with recourse so that state standards are enforced, such as Florida’s prohibition on infusing subjects with critical race theory,” DeSantis said. “Our tax dollars should not be used to teach our kids to hate our country or to hate each other.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis outlined his agenda in his State of the State speech, his last of his first term as he seeks reelection and eyes a possible 2024 presidential run. NBC 6’s Cristian Benavides reports
“Schools have never been, particularly K-12 schools, places of dissension where hate is taught, in fact, schools represent the one place in America where hate is not allowed, where coexistence is taught, where acceptance and empathy and compassion are equally important to mathematics, language arts, and civics,” Carvalho responded. “No district in the state of Florida that I know of is teaching critical race theory.”
The superintendent, who is leaving soon to lead the Los Angeles Unified School District, does agree with DeSantis on the need to cut back on state assessments.
“I am proposing the elimination of the FSA and replacing it with periodic progress monitoring,” DeSantis said.
“I think we ought to reduce the level of testing and increase the opportunities for teaching, that makes a great deal of sense,” Carvalho said.
Carvalho and DeSantis also agree on investing more money into mental health services, job training programs, and hardening schools. Those items are in the governor’s proposed budget.
Jury Selection Underway For Murder Retrial Of Dayonte Resiles
FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Jury selection is underway for the retrial of Dayonte Resiles who is charged in the 2014 stabbing death of Jill Halliburton Su.
Su, a wife, mother, and the grandniece of Halliburton oil founder Erie Halliburton was found stabbed to death in her Davie Home.
Prosecutors claim he broke into Su’s home to burglarize it and killed her when he was discovered. Family and friends believe he is innocent.
Resiles has pleaded not guilty.
Last month, a judge declared a mistrial in Resiles’ first murder trial, after the jury delivered a manslaughter verdict but then a juror said she didn’t agree with it.
Resiles made headlines in 2016 for an escape from the Broward County Courthouse. It took nearly a week to take him back into custody.
If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
Feds To Argue For Transgender Student In Bathroom Case
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The U.S. Department of Justice will argue next month at a federal appeals court on behalf of a transgender male student who was prevented from using boys’ bathrooms at a St. Johns County high school.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week approved a motion by the Justice Department to participate in oral arguments in a case that has drawn attention from states and groups across the country.
Drew Adams, who is transgender, and his mother filed the lawsuit in 2017 after St. Johns County’s Nease High School required him to use a gender-neutral, single-stall bathroom or girls’ bathrooms. A U.S. district judge sided with Adams in the dispute, leading to the St. Johns County School Board taking the case to the Atlanta-based appeals court.
In its Jan. 12 motion to participate in the arguments, the Justice Department contended that the school board’s refusal to allow Adams to use boys’ bathrooms violated equal-protection rights and a federal law known as Title IX, which bars sex-based discrimination. The motion was approved Tuesday.
“The (school) board fails to identify any sound basis for treating Adams differently than cisgender boys for purposes of using the school restrooms, even while treating him as a boy for other purposes,” the Justice Department said in a brief filed in November. “As the district court found, Adams identifies and presents physically as a boy. Even if Adams has some anatomical differences from cisgender boys, those differences are not observable when Adams goes into a private bathroom stall and closes the door. To justify differential treatment, the differences must actually be relevant to the government’s (the school board’s) asserted justification.”
The full federal appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments Feb. 22. A panel of the court ruled in favor of Adams in July, but the full court subsequently vacated the ruling and said it would hear the case — a move known as holding an “en banc’ hearing.
Attorneys for the school board have pointed to privacy issues in defending the bathroom policy. Adams graduated from the high school as the case moved forward.
“This case has always been about whether a definition of sex founded in the real and enduring biological differences between boys and girls substantially advances the important privacy interests of students to use the bathroom free from members of the opposite biological sex,” the school board’s attorneys wrote in a court document last year.
As a sign of the national interest in the case, 40 states and the District of Columbia chose sides in two briefs that were filed in the fall.
Signing on to a brief supporting Adams were the attorneys general in New York, Washington, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Backing the school board in another brief were attorneys general in Tennessee, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia.
(©2022 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders contributed to this report.)
Georgia DA Asks for Special Grand Jury to Investigate Trump in 2020 Election Probe
The Georgia prosecutor looking into possible attempts to interfere in the 2020 general election by former President Donald Trump and others has asked for a special grand jury to aid the investigation.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Thursday sent a letter to Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Christopher Brasher asking him to impanel a special grand jury. She wrote in the letter that her office “has received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia’s administration of elections in 2020, including the State’s election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions.”
Willis has declined to speak about the specifics of her investigation, but in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month she confirmed that its scope includes — but is not limited to — a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a November 2020 phone call between U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021, and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election.
A Trump spokesman has previously dismissed the investigation as a politically motivated “witch hunt.” Graham has also denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement Thursday, Trump said his call to Raffensperger was “perfect.”
“I didn’t say anything wrong in the call, made while I was President on behalf of the United States of America, to look into the massive voter fraud which took place in Georgia,” Trump said. He ended his statement by saying, “No more political witch hunts!”
Federal and state officials have repeatedly said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Georgia or elsewhere in the country during the 2020 election.
Willis’ office has tried to interview multiple witnesses and gather evidence, but some witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate without a subpoena, she wrote in the letter to Brasher. For example, Willis wrote in the letter that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom she calls an “essential witness,” has “indicated that he will not participate in an interview or otherwise offer evidence until he is presented with a subpoena by my office.” A special grand jury would have the power to subpoena witnesses.
Raffensperger’s office did not immediately respond to an email Thursday asking whether he would decline to participate without a subpoena.
Special grand juries, which are not used often in Georgia, can help in the investigation of complex matters. They do not have the power to return an indictment but can make recommendations to prosecutors on criminal prosecutions.
Willis said the special grand jury is needed because it can serve a term longer than a normal grand jury term. It would also be able to focus on this investigation alone, allowing it to focus on the complex facts and circumstances. And having a special grand jury would mean that the regular seated grand jury wouldn’t have to deal with this investigation in addition to their regular duties, Willis wrote.
She also asked that a superior court judge be appointed to assist and supervise the special grand jury in its investigation.
Willis, who took office in January 2021, sent letters to top elected officials in Georgia in February instructing them to preserve any records related to the general election, particularly any evidence of attempts to influence election officials. The probe includes “potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration,” the letters said.
Willis, a longtime prosecutor, has repeatedly said that she’s aware of the intense public interest in her investigation, but she’s said she won’t be rushed. She told the AP that a decision on whether to seek charges in the case could come in the first half of this year.
In her letter to Brasher, Willis said her office has learned that people who may have tried to influence Georgia’s election have had contact with the secretary of state, the state attorney general and the U.S. attorney’s office in Atlanta. That means her office is the only one with the authority to investigate these matters that is not also a potential witness.
Legislatures in Texas, Florida and other states have proposed limits on ballot drop boxes and other election security measures. The laws come after former President Donald Trump claimed of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, contrary to multiple lawsuits and audits that did not support his claims. Now, governors up for re-election in 2022 could see election policies become a major campaign issue, says Insider Senior Politics Reporter Grace Panetta.
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