Parent Trigger Dead

A legislative plan to give parents the authority to turn their child’s failing school in to a charter school was narrowly defeated Friday afternoon. The option to petition to turn over the school is called the parent trigger. The bill was buried under mounting questions about who would own the school buildings taxpayers built if a charter took over.

The parent trigger bill, legislation to allow parents to sign a petition to turn their kid’s public school into a charter school, took center stage in the Florida Senate.

Sen. Evelyn Lynn, “It has turned parent against parent.”

The Parent Trigger targets failing schools. If 51 percent of parents signed a petition, they could ask the Department of Education to turn the school over to a charter company. Sen. Nancy Detert, “If we’ve got a bill called the Parent Empowerment Bill, then why is the PTA against the bill?”

Right now Florida has 18 schools bad enough for parents to pull the trigger. Supporters of the plan say they need that option. Sen. Anitere Flores, “Who is standing up for the parents at these 18 schools. The parents at these 18 schools, where you’re right, the mechanisms we have in place haven’t worked for them.”

The debate got heated after questions arose over who would own the buildings taxpayers built if a charter school took over. Sen. Dennis Jones, “I know the bill talked about a few parents sign a petition, but these schools are the assets of all the public.”

Sen. Nancy Detert, “The charter people will walk right in and take over our buildings and I don’t know how you are going to explain that to your taxpayers back home.”

Once the smoke cleared, the parent trigger bill died on a split vote. But opponents worry leadership will try to reload before session ends.

The president of the Florida Education Association was watching as the bill was defeated. He was excited, but says he’s not ready to celebrate just yet, that’s because any member on the prevailing side could ask leadership to reconsider the bill anytime before session ends. As of right now session is scheduled to end at 10:00 EST.

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