Florida House approves home education legislation

Rep. Jennifer Sullivan

The House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation Thursday that would limit requirements school districts place on homeschoolers.

Rep. Jennifer Sullivan’s bill,  HB 731 , would also increase homeschoolers’ access to dual enrollment and career education courses.

In an amendment filed this week, Florida would no longer require homeschool students to provide their own textbooks when they take college courses through dual enrollment. The bill would also prevent colleges from charging private schools for each dual enrollment course their students take.

The bill comes in response to concerns among parents that districts add hurdles for homeschool registration. That contributed to a decline in homeschooling numbers in some school districts, even though statistics show its popularity is growing statewide.

Florida law requires homeschoolers to register with their local school districts. They have to send a signed notice of intent to the school district office with the students’ names, birthdates and addresses. The bill would bar districts from requiring other information from parents. It would also clarify that a home education program is not a school district program.

In previous years the Legislature considered similar bills. But they have stalled in the Senate, where Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, filed a measure this year. Baxley’s bill awaits a hearing by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The dual enrollment provisions have also gotten a bigger push this year. A separate bill by Baxley, also awaiting a hearing in Senate Appropriations, would address them.

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BY Livi Stanford

Livi Stanford is former associate editor of redefinED. She spent her earlier professional career working at newspapers in Kansas, Massachusetts and Florida. Prior to her work at Step Up For Students, she covered the Lake County School Board, County Commission and local legislative delegation for the Daily Commercial in Leesburg. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.