Please urge your state representative to ask that the staff analysis indicate which schools must comply with the various bills. We now have 3 categories of publicly funded schools:
- Schools run the locally elected school board
- Charter schools
- Voucher funded private schools
Charter schools and voucher funded private schools are supposed to comply with health and safety laws BUT the wording in HB -1B signed by the Governor late in 2021 specifically exempted charter and voucher funded private schools. The bill reads in part:
A district school board, a district school superintendent, an elected or appointed local official, or any district school board employee may not…
Did representatives who voted yes on the bill give a rationale that explained why this particular health rule wouldn’t apply to all publicly funded schools? Was it because Education Commissioner Corcoran wanted to go after the district-run schools that followed CDC guidelines but didn’t want to go after charter or voucher funded private schools that also disobeyed Dr. Ladapo’s rule? In other words, was the bill an attempt to hurt the district run schools rather than an actual health concern?
F.S. 1002.20 discusses parental rights and (3) is specific to health issues but notice how (n) singles out the district-run schools.
1002.20 (3) (n) reads in part:
1. A district school board, a district school superintendent, an elected or appointed local official, or any district school board employee may not:
F.S. 1002.33 reads in part:
16) (a) A charter school shall operate in accordance with its charter and shall be exempt from all statutes in chapters 1000-1013. However, a charter school shall be in compliance with the following statutes in chapters 1000-1013:
1. Those statutes specifically applying to charter schools, including this section.
2. Those statutes pertaining to the student assessment program and school grading system.[but voucher funded private schools don’t, correct?]
3. Those statutes pertaining to the provision of services to students with disabilities.
4. Those statutes pertaining to civil rights, including s. 1000.05, relating to discrimination.
5. Those statutes pertaining to student health, safety, and welfare.
F.S. 1002.421 reads in part as follows:
A private school participating in an educational scholarship program established pursuant to this chapter must
(a) Comply with the antidiscrimination provisions of 42 U.S.C. s. 2000d. [it doesn’t say f.s. 1000.05]
(g) Meet applicable state and local health, safety, and welfare laws, codes, and rules …
Charter and voucher funded private schools do not have to follow the rules of f.s. 1003.42 unless stipulated elsewhere. That statute specifically says it only applies to the district run schools:
F.S. 1003.42 reads in part:
(1)(a) Each district school board shall provide all courses required …
(2) Members of the instructional staff of the public schools, subject to the rules of the State Board of Education and the district school board,
Are charter schools and voucher funded private schools part of “public education” mentioned in Florida’s Constitution Article IX? In other words, does “free public schools” mean “publicly funded schools”?
ARTICLE IX of Florida’s Constitution
SECTION 1. Public education.—(a) The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education …