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Florida Board of Education chairwoman seeks to add private schools to public education portion of constitution

Marva Johnson suggests state funds should go toward private religious schooling in certain circumstances.
Florida Board of Education chairwoman Marva Johnson also chairs the Constitution Revision Commission education committee. [The Florida Channel]
Published Oct. 31, 2017

Marva Johnson, a Gov. Rick Scott appointee to the Florida Board of Education and the Constitution Revision Commission, has proposed that some private school funding be added to the "public education" section of the state constitution.

Her suggested amendment, filed Tuesday, seeks to exempt educational programs from the constitutional prohibition against using state money in support of religious activities and institutions.

She then specifies that public funds should be used for private schools "in the event that a student's right to an education that meets his or her individual needs and learning differences" as provided in another section that she has recommended.

That section states a public school student is entitled to "an education that meets individual needs and learning differences and to use public funding to attend a non-public school if those needs and differences cannot be completely met and accommodated by the student's zoned public school."

Johnson's is one of a growing number of amendment proposals from commission members. They are due by the end of today.

Others have included calls to eliminate salaries for school board members, and to end the Blaine Amendment that prevents the use of state funds for religious purposes.

The commission has until May to send its recommended ballot initiatives to the Secretary of State.

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