It’s Tuesday, March 8th - and NBC 6 has the top stories for the day.
No. 1 - A 5-year-old student who left a teacher hospitalized after he attacked her at an elementary school in Pembroke Pines won't face charges, police said.
The incident happened Wednesday at Pines Lakes Elementary School, and a police report described the incident as an aggravated assault with hands, fist or feet. Pembroke Pines Police officials confirmed Monday the student will not be charged in the incident. According to the report, the incident began when two students, ages 4 and 5, started throwing things around the pre-K classroom and at the teachers, then started flipping over chairs. Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said it's the third time the teacher was taken from the classroom in an ambulance because of injuries from the same student.
No. 2 - A Florida bill to limit discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools neared final passage in the statehouse Monday, as Republicans prepared to advance the measure over critics who argue it marginalizes LGBTQ people.
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The proposal, dubbed by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, is expected to pass the GOP-controlled legislature this week. The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Joe Harding, states: "Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” Parents would be able to sue districts over violations. Since it was introduced, the proposal has drawn widespread criticism from LGBTQ advocates and the White House, with President Joe Biden calling it “hateful." Protestors, often including dozens of students, have flooded the statehouse to oppose the measure as it neared passage.
No. 3 - A teacher at a school in Central Florida is facing misdemeanor battery charges after police said she bit two students over a jar of pickles.
NBC affiliate WFLA-TV reports the teacher, Rhonda Rice, told administrators in the Polk County Public Schools system she was "playing around with students" during the alleged incident, according to a spokesperson. According to the station, the incident happened in October at Bartow Middle School. The aunt of one student involved, Kathy Toro, told the station her 15-year-old nephew and another student were working at the school store when Rice tried to take the jar. When the students tried to take the jar back, Rice allegedly had a biting response. Rice faces two charges and is set to be arraigned March 31st. She was relocated to another school after the incident, but has since been placed on paid administrative leave.
No. 4 - Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said Monday that the state will formally recommend against COVID-19 vaccinations for healthy children.
Ladapo made the announcement at a roundtable event organized by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that featured a group of doctors who criticized coronavirus lockdowns and mandate policies. It was not immediately clear when the state would release its health guidance. “The Florida Department of Health is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children,” Ladapo said at the end of the roundtable discussion. The move was Florida's latest break from White House coronavirus policy, as U.S. health officials and approved of and encourage the use of a COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 5. Vaccines have not been authorized for children under 5.
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No. 5 - Days after he was fired, the former police chief for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is strongly denying allegations that he promoted officers based on their race, gender and sexual orientation.
Larry Scirotto spoke Monday in front of the Fort Lauderdale NAACP building following his firing last Thursday. He called the report that led to his termination completely biased and untruthful. “My services were terminated on Thursday for what was alleged to be discriminatory practices in promotion, which is just flat out false," Scirotto said. Scirotto came in last August as the department was dealing with backlash from incidents during protests after George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis. He noted that due to the diversity and outreach he's brought to the department since then, communities around Fort Lauderdale are getting better policing. Click here for more of what he had to say in a report from NBC 6 investigator Willard Shepard.
No. 6 - A new government office is being created in Miami-Dade County to offer extra support for tenants.
The Office of Tenant Advocate will focus on informing tenants of their rights and connecting them to the resources they need, according to a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Mayor’s Office. NBC 6 Responds learned the county was hiring for positions to fill this office in February. According to Mayor’s office, tenants will be connected with resources to help them remain housed, propose policy and share best practices to expand housing options that residents can afford, and work with landlords on incentives and policies to expand housing options. Click here for more in a report from NBC 6 consumer investigator Sasha Jones.