Parent trigger bill filed again in Florida

The most contentious education bill in last year’s Florida Legislature is back this year.Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, filed a “parent trigger” bill Wednesday that is similar to last year’s.

Senate Bill 862 would give more power to parents in struggling schools that are mandated by state accountability rules to implement a “turnaround” strategy. A majority of parents could petition the school board to pursue one of several turnaround options, including conversion to a charter school. The school board would not be required to follow the majority’s wishes, but the state Board of Education would ultimately determine whether the parent option or district option is pursued.

Last year’s parent trigger bill drew national attention. It cleared the House along mostly party lines, but died in the Senate on a dramatic 20-20 vote. It has been widely assumed that the bill would get another shot this year.

Stargel’s bill would also require school districts to notify parents when their children are assigned out-of-field teachers or teachers with poor evaluations. The notice would let parents know that virtual instruction with a higher performing teacher was available. The bill also bars districts from giving a student a low-performing teacher two years in a row.

So far, there is no House companion to Stargel’s bill.

More from Gradebook and SchoolZone.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at