This will be a busy week with several bills of interest under consideration throughout the week, release of budget proposals from the chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Tuesday and Wednesday, and meetings of the Constitution Revision Commission Committees scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Please click on the link below for the schedule and bills that will be considered on Monday, including bills relating to the Hope Scholarship Program, educational enhancements, school accountability, and juvenile justice. In addition, please click on the link below for a preview of the proposals that will be considered by the CRC Education Committee on Friday.
The Senate Education Committee will meet, 3:30 – 5:30 pm, to consider:
SB 732 – Home Education by Baxley
The bill modifies requirements related to home education programs. Specifically, the bill:
- Modifies the home education program to:
- Clarify the definition of a “parent,” consistent with Florida law.
- Specify limits on information required by the school district from a parent unless the home education program student chooses to participate in a district program or service.
- Authorize a school district to provide to home education program students access to career and technical education courses and programs.
- Require industry certifications and national and statewide assessments offered by the school district to be made available to home education program students.
- Modifies home education program students’ access to extracurricular activities, to:
- Require access to extracurricular courses, regardless of the public school’s capacity.
- Specify that a student must register intent to participate in an extracurricular activity before participation, rather than before the beginning date of the season for the activity.
- Modifies home education program students’ access to the dual enrollment program, to:
- Specify that a high school grade point average (GPA) may not be required for home education program students who meet specified placement test scores.
- Clarify that a home education program student must maintain a minimum GPA established by the postsecondary institution.
In addition, the bill clarifies school attendance procedures, to:
- Specify that district school superintendents may not require evidence of a child’s age if the child attends a school or program specified in law.
- Authorize the district school superintendent to refer instances of nonenrollment to a child study team for intervention.
- Require interventions for nonenrollment and nonattendance prior to criminal prosecution.
SB 1156 – Missing Persons with Special Needs by Perry
The bill expands “Project Leo” statewide to all Centers for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) in the State University System to aid search-and-rescue efforts for persons with special needs in case of elopement. Additionally, the bill:
- Makes the University of Florida responsible for developing eligibility criteria for the selection of participants for all CARD programs throughout the state.
- Removes obsolete reporting requirements related to program implementation and operation.
- Extends the project from June 30, 2018, to June 30, 2019.
SB 1172 – Hope Scholarship Program by Galvano
The bill creates the Hope Scholarship Program (HSP) to provide the parent of a public school student who was subjected to a specified incident an opportunity to transfer the student to another public school or to request and receive from the state a scholarship for the student to enroll in and attend an eligible private school. Additionally, the bill specifies eligibility criteria, a funding mechanism, and responsibilities for:
- School districts to investigate any specified incident and timely inform the parent of a student subjected to such incident about the HSP.
- Private schools that participate in the HSP to comply with all requirements established in law for participating in state scholarship programs and to:
- Provide specified documentation and respond to information requests.
- Be academically accountable to the parent for meeting the student’s educational needs.
- Maintain a physical location in Florida.
- The Department of Education (DOE) to:
- Annually verify the eligibility of private schools in the HSP and require notarized compliance certifications from the private schools.
- Cross-check the list of students participating in the HSP with public school enrollment lists and other state scholarship program participation lists before each HSP payment.
- Require annual reports by Scholarship-funding Organizations.
- Contract with an independent entity to provide an annual evaluation of the HSP and school climate.
- Conduct site visits to participating private schools for specified purposes.
- The Commissioner of Education to deny, suspend, or revoke a private school’s participation in the program and to immediately suspend scholarship fund payments under specified circumstances.
- Nonprofit scholarship-funding organizations to establish scholarships for eligible students and provide quarterly and annual reports to the DOE.
- The Auditor General to conduct an annual operational audit of each scholarship-funding organization that participates in the HSP.
The bill specifies that the HSP is funded by taxpayers who make an eligible contribution, limited to a single $20 payment, at the time of a vehicle purchase or registration in Florida and authorizes a credit of 100 percent of the amount of such eligible contribution by the taxpayer against the sales and use tax on the vehicle purchase or registration.
SB 1286 – The Gardiner Scholarship by Simmons
The bill revises the definition of a rare disease for the purposes of the Gardiner Scholarship Program. Specifically, the bill specifies that a rare disease is a disorder that affects patient populations of 200,000 individuals or fewer, and conforms the definition of a rare disease to the definition as defined by the Orphan Drug Act.
SB 1434 – K-12 Education Enhancements by Passidomo
The bill establishes the mental health assistance allocation within the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) to provide funds for school-based mental health programs. Specifically, the bill:
- Specifies that the purpose of the allocation is to provide supplemental funding to assist school districts in establishing or expanding comprehensive school-based mental health programs that:
- Increase awareness of mental health issues among children and school-age youth;
- Train educators and other school staff in detecting and responding to mental health issues; and
- Connect children, youth, and families who may experience behavioral health issues with appropriate services.
- Provides that charter schools are entitled to a proportionate share of district funding for the mental health assistance allocation.
- Requires each district and charter school to annually develop and submit a detailed plan outlining the local program and planned expenditures for approval by the district school board or charter school governing body and specifies the minimum information that must be included in the plan.
- Requires an annual final report on program outcomes and expenditures that must be submitted to the Commissioner of Education by each entity that receives a mental health assistance allocation, and specifies the related deadline for submission of the final report.
In addition, the bill also modifies the eligibility requirements and calculation methodology for specified charter school capital outlay provisions and revises the amount of discretionary millage that a school district may expend for specified purposes.
SB 1548 – K-12 Student Safety by Book
The bill modifies Florida law regarding educator certification requirements and district school board duties relating to school safety. Specifically, the bill:
- Expands the applicability of certain employment disqualification criteria to include all positions that require direct contact with students.
- Grants the Department of Education and the Education Practices Commission additional authority to enforce the educator certification requirements and impose penalties against persons who do not comply with certification requirements.
- Requires the holder of a Florida educator certification to agree to inform his or her employer within 48 hours if arrested for any disqualifying offense while employed in a position that requires the certification.
- Exempts an individual who provides proof of a valid background screening for an educator certification from the background screening required for individuals acting as service providers through the Division of Vocational Rehab.
- Provides that persons employed as part-time teachers by the district school board are not exempt from the certification requirements for all school-based personnel.
- Specifies that an adjunct teaching certificate may not be used to fulfill the certification requirements for a person who is employed and renders service as an athletic coach in any public school in Florida.
SB 1618 – Education by Hukill
The bill deletes an obsolete July 1, 2007, deadline for the Florida Department of Education to develop and operate an electronic individual education plan (IEP) for statewide use.
SB 1756 – School Accountability by Simmons
The bill strengthens the accountability provisions for private schools that participate in state school choice scholarship programs, and applies such provisions consistently to the participating schools. Specifically, the bill:
- Expands the number of site visits to private schools that the Department of Education (DOE or department) must make and the scope of such visits to require the DOE to:
- Annually visit at least 5 percent of private schools participating in state scholarship programs, with opportunities for follow-up visits.
- Visit each private school that notifies the department of the school’s intent to participate in a state scholarship program.
- Modifies the teacher qualification requirements for private schools that participate in state scholarship programs to require:
- That the teachers hold a baccalaureate or higher degree from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university, in addition to other specified qualifications.
- The private schools to report to the DOE, specified information regarding the qualifications of each teacher hired by such schools.
- Requires the Division of State Fire Marshall to annually provide to the DOE, a report of fire safety inspections of private schools that participate in a state scholarship program.
- Requires a private school that receives more than $250,000 in funds from any state scholarship program in a state fiscal year to provide to the DOE a specified financial report from an independent certified public accountant.
- Specifies that a private school is ineligible to participate in a state scholarship program if the owner or operator of the private school was a debtor in a voluntary or involuntary bankruptcy petition within the most recent 5 years.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will meet, 3:30 – 5:30 pm, to consider the following items and others:
SB 936 – Juvenile Justice by Powell
- Eliminates mandatory direct file of a child and changes the discretionary prosecution of children as adults by:
- Modifying the age in which a child can be prosecuted as an adult from 14 or 15 to 16 or 17 and limits the specified offenses that qualify a child to be prosecuted as an adult.
- Prohibiting the prosecution of a 16 or 17 year old as an adult for the offense of grand theft in violation of s. 812.014(2)(a), F.S.
- Providing a child transferred to adult court the opportunity to request a hearing before the court to determine if his or her case should remain in adult court.
- Requires the court to include certain information in the disposition order or the judgment and sentence order at the time the court adjudicates a case eligible for transfer to adult court.
- Removes involuntary mandatory waiver from the judicial waiver process and provides that only a child of 14 years of age or older can be subject to an indictment by a grand jury.
- Prohibits a child who is incompetent or has a pending competency hearing from being transferred to adult court until his or her competency is restored.
- Provides that a child transferred to adult court may be sentenced as an adult, a youthful offender under ch. 958, F.S., or a juvenile. The bill also modifies and adds criteria that the court must consider when determining what type of sanctions are appropriate.
- Requires the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to collect and annually report data to the Governor, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Representatives regarding children who qualify for prosecution as adults. The DJJ must work with the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) to aggregate the data and create a report.
- Prohibits children convicted as adults from losing their civil rights.
SB 1392 – Prearrest Diversion Programs by Brandes
- Requires the establishment of a prearrest diversion program for adults and a civil citation or similar diversion program for juveniles in each judicial circuit.
- Provides that each judicial circuit’s prearrest and civil citation or similar diversion program must specify:
- The misdemeanor offenses that qualify an offender for participation in the program;
- The eligibility criteria for the program;
- The program’s implementation and operation;
- The program’s requirements;
- A program fee, if any, to be paid by a participant of the program.
- Requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to adopt rules to provide for the expunction of a nonjudicial record of the arrest of a juvenile who has successfully completed a diversion program for a misdemeanor offense.
- Requires each civil citation or similar diversion program to submit certain information to the FDLE and the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) regarding a juvenile’s participation in the program.
- Requires the DJJ to collect and publish on the DJJ’s website certain information relating to each juvenile who is eligible for the diversion program but is instead referred to the DJJ, provided a notice to appear, or is arrested.
SB 1394 – Public Records/Prearrest Diversion Programs by Brandes
The bill, which is linked to the passage of SB 1392 (above), creates a public records exemption for personal identifying information of an adult who participates and successfully completes a prearrest diversion program.
As we reported in Friday’s issue of the Session Spotlight, the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) Education Committee has adopted a new procedure for considering the proposals assigned to the Committee: Proposals will be considered over two separate meetings of the Committee. In the first meeting, proposals are presented and amended (as needed), Commissioner questions are addressed, and public testimony is accepted, but NO VOTE is taken on approval of each proposal. Instead, each proposal would be Temporarily Postponed until the next Education Committee meeting when formal debate and the vote on passage occurs. As a result, several proposals were considered for the first time at the January 19 meeting and will be debated and voted upon at January 26 meeting. In addition, the Committee will be considering the following proposals for the first time:
Proposal 10 – Civic Literacy – sponsored by Don Gaetz
This proposal revises Article IX of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would add a new section that would provide that, as education is essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the legislature shall provide by law for the promotion of civic literacy in order to ensure that students enrolled in public education understand and are prepared to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens of a constitutional democracy.
Proposal 15 – Basic Rights – sponsored by Anna Marie Hernandez Gamez
This proposal revises Article I, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would repeal the Florida Alien Land Law which currently authorizes the Legislature to regulate or restrict property rights of aliens who are ineligible for citizenship. In addition, the proposal would amend the prohibited bases of government discrimination so that this provision would provide that no person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or “physical or cognitive disability” (rather than “physical disability”). [NOTE: This proposal is scheduled for consideration by the CRC Declaration of Rights Committee on January 25. It will be heard by the CRC Education Committee on January 26 if received from the Declaration of Rights Committee.]
Proposal 30 – Basic Rights – sponsored by Roberto Martinez
This proposal revises Article I, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would amend the prohibited bases of government discrimination so that this provision would provide that no person shall be deprived of any right because of race, religion, national origin, or “any” disability (rather than “physical disability”). [NOTE: This proposal is scheduled for consideration by the CRC Declaration of Rights Committee on January 25. It will be heard by the CRC Education Committee on January 26 if received from the Declaration of Rights Committee.]
Proposal 59 – Religious Freedom – sponsored by Marva Johnson
This proposal revises Article I, Section 3 and Article IX, Sections 1 and 6 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would amend the “No Aid” Provision in Article 1, Section 3 to provide an exception for educational programs under Article IX, Section 1. The proposal would also amend Article IX, Section 1 to authorize public funds to be appropriated to private schools in the event that a student’s right to an education that meets his or her individual needs and learning differences is violated. In addition, the proposal stipulates that a public school student is entitled to a meaningful education, a positive school environment, high educational standards and assessments that accurately captures abilities and knowledge, qualified teachers, school choice, express and hear various points of view, protection of privacy, and due process.
Proposal 82 – Education – sponsored by Brecht Heuchan
This proposal revises Article IX, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would prohibit a school board from setting the opening date for schools in the school district for earlier than seven days before Labor Day each year.
Proposal 93 – Education — sponsored by Roberto Martinez
This proposal would amend Article IX, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would authorize the school board of a high performing school district to choose to be designated as a charter district that would be exempt from all provisions of the Florida K-20 Education Code in the same manner as a charter school designated by Florida law. A charter district would remain under the governance of the school board.
In addition to hearing the above proposals for the first time, the CRC Education Committee will debate and vote on the following proposals that were first considered and temporarily postponed at the January 19, 2018 meeting:
Proposal 71 – Charter School Authorization — sponsored by Erika Donalds
This proposal would amend Article IX, Section 4 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would authorize the Legislature to enact laws providing alternative processes to authorize the establishment of public schools in the state.
Proposal 45 – Public Education — sponsored by Erika Donalds
This proposal would amend Article IX, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would revise the text of this Article to provide that adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools “allowing the opportunity for each student” (rather than “that allows students”) to obtain a high quality education. In addition, the proposal specifies that no provision in Article IX may be construed to limit the Legislature from making provision for other educational services that benefit the children and families of this state that are in addition to the system of free public schools.
Proposal 89 – Public Education — sponsored by Nicole Washington
This proposal would amend Article IX, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution. This proposal adds to the existing text of Article IX, Section 1(a) to specify that the purpose and intent of the state’s public education system is to develop the intellect of the state’s citizens, to contribute to the economy, to create an effective workforce, and to prepare students for a job. In addition, the proposal adds Section 1(d) to provide that, in order to build Florida’s talent pipeline for the careers of today and tomorrow and align the state’s education, workforce, and economic development efforts, it is the intent of the people to provide high quality and affordable postsecondary education opportunities.
Proposal 4 – Religious Freedom — sponsored by Roberto Martinez
This proposal revises Article I, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. The proposal would remove the existing prohibition against using public revenues in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or any sectarian institution.
For more information, please visit our Florida CRC page on the FSBA website.