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Governor Signed the Education Bills

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

On March 11, 2018, the Governor Signed the Education Bills into Law

Senate Bill 4

Senate Bill 4 makes the changes to Bright Futures Scholarships permanent. 

  1. The Academic Scholarship will now be funded at 100% of tuition and fees and provide $300 per fall and spring semester for textbooks beginning in the fall of 2018.Beginning in the 2018 summer term, if funded by the Legislature, a student may use a Florida Academic Scholars award for summer term enrollment.

  2. The Medallion Scholarship will be funded at 75% of tuition and fees.Beginning in the 2019 summer term, if funded by the Legislature, a student may use a Florida Medallion Scholars award for summer term enrollment.A student may use other Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program awards for summer term enrollment, if funded by the Legislature.

  3. Gold Seal Vocational Scholars and CAPE Vocational Scholars awards shall be funded at: Gold Seal Vocational Scholars & CAPE Vocational Scholars Career Certificate Program……….$ 39Applied Technology Diploma Program…………………………………………………………………..$ 39Technical Degree Education Program…………………………………………………………………….$ 48Gold Seal CAPE Vocational Scholars BS Program w/ Statewide Articulation Agreement………..$ 48Florida College System Bachelor of Applied Science Program………………………………………..$ 48

The additional stipend for Top Scholars shall be $44 per credit hour.

House Bill 7055

House Bill 7055 has many educational provisions of interest to private schools and home education students.

Dual Enrollment

  1. Jennifer Sullivan was the sponsor of HB 731 which contained all the home education changes that we needed to address issues negatively affecting home education over the last 10 years. As the Session progressed, it became clear that HB 7055 was going to be the Education “Train*.”  She, along with Rep. Michael Bileca and Rep. Manny Diaz, worked together to include an appropriation in CS/HB 7055 of $550,000 in recurring funds to pay for home education students’ dual enrollment instructional materials. The language was in Rep. Sullivan’s CS/HB 731 which specified how the funds were to be appropriated.  However, the implementing language in CS/HB 731 was removed by an amendment on the Senate Floor on the next to the last day of Session. The language which was removed stated that the funds were to be “appropriated to the Department of Education to be used by the Division of Florida Colleges to reimburse eligible colleges for the instructional materials pursuant to s.1007.271(13) F.S.” which refers to home education students. The funding statement in CS/HB 7055 is not that specific, however, the meaning is still there. The law goes into effect July 1, 2018.  Therefore, dual enrollment books should be covered for the fall semester, but it is not clear how this will be implemented.  Home education dual enrollment students should contact the dual enrollment coordinator at the public college where the courses are to be taken.

  2. This bill also provides partial relief for private schools for their students taking dual enrollment courses. The following provision in the articulation agreement was removed.

“The provision in the private school articulation agreement must include…….. A provision stating whether the private school will compensate the postsecondary institution for the standard tuition rate per credit hour for each dual enrollment course taken by its students.”

This unfair consequence was the result of legislation passed in 2012 which required school districts to pay the tuition for the public school students who participated in dual enrollment courses.  The law was silent on private schools. The HEF lobbyist has been trying since that time to get the Legislature to put in a provision that would clarify that this charge would not apply to private schools.

This Session, the HEF lobbyist, Brenda Dickinson, enlisted help from The Foundation for Florida’s Future, the Florida Association of Academic Non-public Schools, and other groups to help bring equity for private school students.  We all tried to get the following underlined words from CS/SB 1064 included in CS/HB 7055, but were not successful.

“The provision in the private school articulation agreement must include…….. A provision expressing that costs associated with tuition and fees, including registration, and laboratory fees, will not be passed along to the student or the private school the student attends.”

The Senate would not accept the phrase during the negotiations on CS/HB 7055. This language would have clearly stated that public postsecondary institutions could not charge private schools for private school students taking dual enrollment courses. The HEF lobbyist then tried to have it included in HB 731 only to be told that it would kill the Home Education bill.  If this is going to ever be corrected, it is going to have to be a grassroots effort from constituents who have children in a private school and are affected by this unfair practice which denies private school students access to dual enrollment. The best way to do this is to work in the political campaign for your state representative or senator in the upcoming election.

  1. Keeping bad language out is almost as hard as getting a good bill passed. The HEF lobbyist, with the help of several groups, including HSLDA, Home Life Academy, and FPEA which sent out alerts. Michael Phillips of FCCPSA, came to Tallahassee and walked the halls with Brenda. Together we were able to defeat language in a Senate strike-all amendment to HB 7055 that would have removed two ways for parents to meet regular attendance.  One of those options would have eliminated private schools in which the students did not attend full-time and the other was the private tutor program.

  2. Language was included in this bill to prevent state colleges and universities from reducing the number of classes that can be taken at a public postsecondary institution if the student also takes classes at a private university.

  3. The bill also specifies that public postsecondary institutions cannot require a GPA from home educated students in order to enroll in dual enrollment courses if the student makes the minimum scores on the common placement test.

Gardiner Scholarship Program

  1. The Gardiner Scholarship Program has been so beneficial to parents of children with disabilities that the funds have not met the demand even though the Legislature has increased the funding 3 times since its creation in 2014. Therefore, the Legislature increased the funding by about $26 million this year from General Revenue.

  2. In addition to the recurring funding in General Revenue, the Legislature created a new funding stream for Gardiner which allows businesses that pay tax on rental or license fees for use of real property to get a tax credit if they contribute the tax to a scholarship funding organization. This tax credit could raise $57.5 million more for the Gardiner Scholarship.

  3. The ways that parents can use their scholarship were expanded as well.  The Legislature added language which allows the funds to be used for…

  4. Tuition or fees for part-time tutoring with a person who has a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree in the subject in which the instruction is given. Previously, the person had to have a recognized credential granted by the DOE.

  5. Tuition or fees associated with enrollment in a nationally or internationally recognized research-based training program for a child with a neurological disorder or brain damage. This language we believe would include programs like Bridgeway Academy’s HOPE for Learning Disabilities Program and National Association of Child Development programs which some parents currently desire to use.

Extracurricular Activities

We were able to strike the wording which required home education students to have to register prior to the beginning date of the season in which the student wishes to participate.  This gives home educated students more opportunities to join a team if they miss a specific date set by the FHSAA.

Hope Scholarships

A new scholarship was created for public school students who have been bullied to attend a private school on scholarship or have their transportation paid for to attend another public school. There are certain conditions which have to be met in order to qualify for a Hope Scholarship, but this cannot be used to home educate a child.

HB 731

HB 731 has not been signed by the Governor yet. The bill has not been received by his office and he has 14 days after he receives the bill to sign, veto or let it go into law.

The Home Education Bill 731 clarified several sections of law which had been misinterpreted or used to harass home education parents.  Hopefully, this language will prevent the Broward and Miami-Dade School Districts from requiring the child’s birth certificate and the parent’s driver’s license to be provided before registering the home education program.  HB 731 which was sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Sullivan was one of the last bills passed on Friday night at 10:05 pm before the Legislature recessed until Sunday when they came back to vote on the budget.  Rep. Sullivan fought very hard for all the provisions for home education students in both CS/HB 731 and CS/HB 7055.  She deserves much praise for getting these bills through the Session.

HB 731

  1. Makes reference to the definition of a parent in s.1000.21(1).

  2. Clarifies that a home education program is not a public school choice program.

  3. States that registering the home education program is only for the purpose of complying with the state’s attendance requirements.

  4. Clarifies the role of the parent and the school district in a home education program.

  5. Specifically states that the superintendent shall accept the notice of intent and immediately register the home education program upon receipt of the notice.

  6. States that the school district may not require any additional information or verification from the parent unless the student chooses to participate in a school district program or service.

  7. Clarifies that in the compulsory attendance statute that the superintendent can only check the birth certificate and residency of a child enrolling in a public school.

  8. States that a parent who terminates a home education program is required to submit an annual evaluation.

  9. States that the district school superintendent may not assign a grade level to the home education student or include a social security number or any other personal information of the student in any school district or state database unless the student chooses to participate in a school district program or service.

  10. States that the Superintendent may not further regulate, exercise control over, or require documentation from parents of home education program students beyond the requirements of this section unless the regulation, control, or documentation is necessary for participation in a school district program.

  11. Clearly states that the parent shall determine the content of the portfolio.

  12. Clarifies that a school district may provide access to career and technical programs offered by the district.

  13. Requires school districts to allow home education students to take any industry certification or assessment given in the school district.

  14. Clarifies that the State Attorney cannot independently prosecute a parent for truancy without due process.

  15. Simply moves language to a new paragraph clarifying that the Superintendent is not responsible for reporting a child in a private school or home education program to the DHSMV for non-attendance.

All of these have been issues that have been problematic for home educators over the last few years. Without this language in statute we have been unable to explain how the law was supposed to work. There should be enough clarification in law now that home educators will not continue to be harassed by a school district.

*The main bill which is moving through the process, like a train, that everyone wants to add their amendments, like cars, to the train.

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