For the second consecutive year, the Florida Senate has killed a controversial bill known as the "parent trigger." And again, the bill died on a 20-20 vote after having won approval in the Florida House.
This year, the Senate bill differed dramatically from the House version in that the Senate would have given school boards the final authority whether to approve a parent requested turnaround model for a failing school. The House would have left that decision with the State Board of Education, paving the way for further debate even if the Senate had backed the measure.
Instead, the Senate killed the measure on a bipartisan vote, with Republicans Charlie Dean, Nancy Detert, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Greg Evers, Rene Garcia and Jack Latvala joining the Democrats in opposing the effort. Detert spoke passionately against the bill, urging her colleagues to allow the good education measures the Legislature has passed the time and opportunity to take effect instead of adopting the questionable parent trigger.
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Democrat Dwight Bullard further pointed out that no parent organizations supported the bill that was supposed to be for them, noting that he represents many of the failing schools in his Miami district. In fact many groups including the Florida PTA actively fought the proposal, while the supporting organizations were from out-of-state and tied to questionable petitions.
Bill sponsor Kelli Stargel closed by arguing that the bill was intended to support children trapped in failing schools, and to give their parents extra school choice options.
Applause burst from the gallery after the vote total was announced, prompting president Don Gaetz to warn against further outbursts.