Florida Senate kills parent trigger bill that could have remade public schools

Herald/Times Tallahassee BureauApril 30, 2013 

TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Senate killed the controversial parent trigger bill Tuesday.

The bill died almost exactly as it did last year: in a 20-20 vote in the final week of the session.

"The second time is just as sweet," said Florida Education Association President Andy Ford, who helped lead the opposition against the bill. "I'm happy that the Legislature stepped up and did what's right for the state of Florida."

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Kelli Stargel, would have let parents demand sweeping changes at failing public schools, including having the school transformed into a charter school. It had been watered down by an amendment from Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, that would have allowed school boards to reject parent petitions.

Most observers thought the Simmons amendment would have given Stargel the votes she needed to pass the bill out of the upper chamber. But a handful of Republicans joined the Democratic opposition Tuesday, including Sens. Nancy Detert, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, Rene Garcia, Jack Latvala, Greg Evers and Charlie Dean.

Detert pointed out that parents across the state had opposed the legislation.

"The minute you vote yes, your PTA is going to call you and say, What were you thinking?'" she said.

The bill was considered a priority for former Gov. Jeb Bush and his education non-profit, the Foundation for Florida's Future.

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