There were 47,000 cases of violence and abuse against students in Florida public schools last year according to Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
“Those children are forced, day in and day out, to go back to that school where they are subject to violence and abuse,” said Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes. “Any study has shown where there is intimidation and violence and abuse, that child’s learning pretty much ceases to exist.”
The speaker and House leaders announced a proposal Wednesday that would offer a new school choice program for those students who are victims of abuse and violence. It would allow students to use one of the state’s Hope Scholarships to transfer to another school–public or private–15 days after reporting an incidence of violence.
While Corcoran says a revenue source to provide funding for the Hope Scholarship expansion hasn’t been identified, he says funding for the new program would not come from the public school budget.
He says the new program would likely be operated like the state’s other programs that provide school vouchers for disabled and low-income students.
“This initiative is to make sure that every child in our state that are subject to abuse, whether it be battery, physical assault, sexual assault, hazing, bullying of any kind, that there would be a process for them to leave the current school that they’re in,” said Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, who is sponsoring the legislation.
“We want to make sure that the state provides that child the opportunity to continue with their education in a safe environment,” Donalds added.
While there are 47,000 documented cases of bullying, assaults or intimidation in the state’s public schools each year, Corcoran says many other cases go unreported. He says the actual number is probably closer to 100,000.
“Children who are subjected to violence and abuse at school deserve hope, dignity, and a real opportunity to succeed,” Corcoran said.