Bill would create new school choice program for Fla. bullying victims

Byron Donalds presser

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, during a press conference at the state Capitol.

The Florida House of Representatives has released legislation creating a new school choice program for victims of bullying and harassment in public schools.

HB 1, announced last month by House leaders and filed Wednesday by Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, would create create a new Hope Scholarship program.

It would allow victims to transfer to another public school, or qualify for a state tax credit scholarship. Victims who transfer to a public school in another district would also become eligible for transportation scholarships. The little-used portion of the state’s tax credit scholarship program allows families to receive up to $750 for transportation across legislative lines.Students would become eligible for the program 15 days after reporting an eligible incident to their school district. Those incidents, listed in the bill, include: “battery; harassment; hazing; bullying; kidnapping; physical attack; robbery; sexual offenses, harassment, assault, or battery; threat or intimidation; or fighting at school.”

During legislative meetings Thursday hosted by the Associated Press in Tallahassee, House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, identified the legislation as a priority for Republicans in his chamber. The goal, he said, was to ensure children who face threats have a chance to quickly move to a different learning environment.

“What we want is the child is to be in an environment where they feel safe and secure,” he said.

The bill is set to come before the House K-12 Innovation Subcommittee next week.

Step Up For Students, which publishes this blog, helps adminsiter the tax credit scholarship program in Florida.


3 Responses to Bill would create new school choice program for Fla. bullying victims

  1. Billy May November 3, 2017 at 11:33 am #

    Why not send the bullies to another school?

    • Travis Pillow
      Travis Pillow November 6, 2017 at 4:14 pm #

      That would be the expulsion mechanism, which takes a long time to adjudicate if it’s even carried out. This proposal would allow the victims to find a different school 15 days after a parent files a complaint.

  2. Dan Smith November 28, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    This bill does not deal with the bullying problem that school districts allow and nurture – they move the victims only and allow the bullies to become stronger. Also – the real purpose of this bill – is to move money out of a cash-strapped public education system and send it to private schools. FLA is at the bottom of the country in education because of these programs.