Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Florida lawmaker files bill for new ‘Hope’ scholarship to help bullied students

State Rep. Byron Donalds has filed his promised legislation seeking to expand Florida's voucher-like system to students who have been bullied in public school.

The measure, a House leadership priority, was given the symbolic spot of HB 1. It will get quick treatment, with its first committee hearing scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Introducing the concept in October, Donalds and Speaker Richard Corcoran said their goal was to provide students options away from public schools where they encountered violence.

"When you put a kid in a good, safe learning environment, good results happen," Corcoran said at the time.

The bill provides more details about the plan.

Among them, the lawmakers have proposed allowing students to receive a scholarship to a private school, or a transportation scholarship to a different public school of their choice, 15 days after they report having been subjected at school to not only bullying, but also to battery, harassment, hazing, kidnapping, physical attack, robbery; sexual offenses, harassment, assault, or battery; threat or intimidation; or fighting.

It does not distinguish between a student who starts a fight and one who is drawn into one.

The private schools could be sectarian or nonsectarian. To participate, the schools would have to provide at a minimum an annual progress report to parents, and make provisions for the students to take a nationally norm-referenced test.

Funding would come through a tax-credit program associated with the purchase of a motor vehicle.

The state Department of Education would have authority to review the participating schools' climate and some of their basic information, such as teacher credentials.

"The department may not make more than seven site visits each year," the bill states. "However, the department may make additional site visits at any time to a school that has received a notice of noncompliance or a notice of proposed action within the previous 2 years."

Questions about oversight of private schools receiving tax credit scholarships have risen with a recent Orlando Sentinel report about that program.

The bill has yet to get a Senate version.

Comments
Florida education news: Water pipes, gender rights, textbook choices and more

Florida education news: Water pipes, gender rights, textbook choices and more

IN THE WATER: A Pinellas County middle school continues to hand out water bottles to students as it clears its pipes of copper and iron. Officials say the levels are now safe, but want to keep up the effort as a precaution.GUNS ON CAMPUS: Two La...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Update: Two students arrested after gun found near Lakewood High

Update: Two students arrested after gun found near Lakewood High

Two Lakewood High students arrested Monday now face felony weapons charges after the school was placed on lockdown following reports of a weapon on campus.The 16-year-olds will be charged with possession of a weapon on a school campus ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Seminole Middle water test results come back clean, district says

Seminole Middle water test results come back clean, district says

Pinellas County school district officials say the water levels in Seminole Middle School's cafeteria, which was found to have "high levels" of copper and iron this week, are now within the Environmental Protection Agency's safe guidelines.Distri...
Published: 12/11/17
USF nets Institution of the Year award from D.C. publication

USF nets Institution of the Year award from D.C. publication

For its use of data to help students stay in college and graduate on time, the University of South Florida was named higher education's "institution of the year" by a D.C.-based education publication.The honor comes as USF celebrates i...
Published: 12/11/17
Florida education news: Computer classes, testing, term limits and more

Florida education news: Computer classes, testing, term limits and more

GONE DIGITAL: Duval County schools make strides in getting more girls into computer courses, the Florida Times-Union reports.AFTER THE STORM: The Miami-Dade County school district seeks testing waivers for students who enrolled after fleein...
Published: 12/11/17
ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Dec. 2, 2017

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Dec. 2, 2017

Hard to believe, but winter break is fast approaching, and Florida schools are turning their focus to first semester exams. Still, the news continues about bullying, bus rides, block scheduling and more.  Catch up on the highlights of the week's...
Published: 12/09/17
Florida education news: Board vacancies, school choice, choice words and more

Florida education news: Board vacancies, school choice, choice words and more

ON BOARD: The terms of three Florida Board of Education members expire this month, with a fourth still officially unfilled from 2016. That's a majority of seats on the seven-person panel that Gov. Rick Scott gets to pick. Observers are watching ...
Published: 12/08/17
In Pinellas, neighborhood schools are options, too

In Pinellas, neighborhood schools are options, too

There's a movement in St. Petersburg to rally families around their neighborhood school instead of beelining toward the Pinellas County school district's exclusive magnet and fundamental options.But for many families, another neighborhood school that...
Published: 12/07/17
Updated: 12/08/17
In Hillsborough, charter schools are the elephant in the boardroom

In Hillsborough, charter schools are the elephant in the boardroom

More fallout from Tuesday's Hillsborough County School Board meeting involves charter schools.The board, as promised, heard a presentation from charter schools director Jenna Hodgens about the many charter applications that are withdrawn before they ...
Published: 12/07/17
Three Florida Board of Education member terms end this month

Three Florida Board of Education member terms end this month

There's been some speculation lately as to what the future holds for Florida's Board of Education, with three seats coming open and a fourth still without an official appointment from a year ago.Board chairwoman Marva Johnson, vice chair An...
Published: 12/07/17