News Update for 6/16/23

Highlands County School Board members voted in favor of parental consent when they met in regular session. They moved to mandate parental notification if students were issed so-called “well being questionnaires.” Under current state law, parents would only be informed of such surveys if their kids are in kindergarten through third grade.
School board members voted to mandate parental involvement in the process for any Highlands students under the age of 18.
Reportedly, such surveys cover a wide variety of behavioral health topics, including; safety, smoking, alcohol consumption, sexual behavior, gender identity, self-image, diet, and social media use among other things.
They say it’s a way for school districts to track trends, and for states to compare to each other and to compare local trends against national ones.

It appears the city of Avon Park wants to speed up their meetings. At the behest of City Manager Mark Schrader, the council will begin to move more items to a consent agenda portion of the session.
The idea is to give blanket approval to issues that need no discussion – with a single vote by council. Should any council member want to discuss any of the consent items at length, they can have it moved to the regular action agenda.

Local officials, historical buffs and residents will gather this morning near Lorida Park, to unveil the Lorida Schoolhouse Historical Marker, The metal plaque will commemorate the school and information about this historic building.
The ceremonies are set to occur this morning at 10:00.

Another championship sporting event is coming to Highlands County. Officials of Visit Sebring say the American Cornhole League’s Florida State Championship will be held beginning today in the Alan Jay Arena at the Highlands County Fairgrounds.
Staged by the East Coast Beach Baggers, the event is slated to run through Sunday.

The state’s new death penalty law could affect a murder trial in Polk County. Bryan Riley could get the death penalty for killing four people in a shooting in Lakeland in 2021, and lawyers argued yesterday about how many jury votes should be needed to apply the death penalty.
At the time of the killings, death penalty votes needed to be unanimous, but this year, state lawmakers lowered the threshold from 12 votes to just eight. Riley’s lawyers say 12 votes should be needed because the law was not passed retroactively. Prosecutors, though, say the new law should be in effect because it was passed before Riley’s trial has started. News Channel 8 reports the judge did not issue a ruling.

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