A key Florida lawmaker has filed legislation that would grant all state lawmakers unfettered access to public schools within their legislative districts.
SB 118, filed by Senate Education chairwoman Dorothy Hukill, would allow representatives and senators to visit the schools "on any day and at any time at his or her pleasure." Local school district officials "may not limit the duration or scope of the visit or direct the visiting individual to leave the premises," the bill further directs.
If adopted, this measure would expand upon the visiting rights given to all school board and charter board members during the 2017 legislative session. That issue arose at the request of some school board members who said they had been refused permission to visit schools at certain times.
Martin County superintendent Laurie Gaylord emailed colleagues to apologize for the provision, which she attributed to "one of my Board members in Martin County who is married to the Senate President." Some school officials have suggested that uncontrolled visits could disturb schools' working routines.
This latest proposal comes as school boards across Florida ponder whether to sue the Legislature over HB 7069, which included that visitation language. The far-reaching law also requires districts to share their tax revenue with charter schools, among other things.
Many school board members have expressed displeasure with the law. But some also have voiced concerns that if they fight back, they might face retaliation from lawmakers with long memories.
Lawmakers generally do not have unregulated entry to other governmental facilities.
Hukill could not be reached for comment. We will update this post if and when we contact her.