DeSantis Signs Legislation to Expand School Choice Options

Posted on May 11, 2021 by Staff reports

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis today signed House Bill 7045 that will provide more education opportunities for children from low-income families and students with unique abilities. The bill expands eligibility for low-income students, and prioritizes military, foster, and adopted students. 
“This legislation creates historical levels of flexibility in both schooling and educational services for millions of low-income families and families of students with unique abilities,” said Governor DeSantis. “As we have seen for more than 20 years now, these scholarship programs have elevated so many children and families. I am thankful to Senator Manny Diaz and Representatives Randy Fine and Jason Fischer for sponsoring this inclusive legislation to ensure that all of Florida’s students have the best chance for success.”
“By giving parents increased options to choose the education that best meets their child’s needs, we are giving those students unlimited opportunity,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “This legislation takes our scholarship programs to the next level. Many, many thanks to House and Senate leadership for moving this successfully through the legislative process and to Governor DeSantis for his extraordinary vision in providing the highest quality educational options for Florida families.” 
Highlights of the legislation include:
  • Reimagines the school choice landscape in Florida to embrace more families by increasing access to life-changing educational opportunities that support and cater to the unique needs of more students than ever before. 
  • Prioritizes each student and family’s success. Florida has increased individual scholarship amounts to 100% of the state funding allocated to the child’s education and expands access of Florida’s scholarship programs to more families. 
  • Ensures priority for the Family Empowerment Scholarship is given to uplift children in foster care, out-of-home care, or whose household income level does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty level. 
  • Eliminates barriers to educational access by eliminating: 
    • The requirement, as a condition of eligibility, for a student to be in public school prior to applying for a scholarship. 
    • All current waitlists for eligible students to participate in and benefit from a scholarship program and has set strategic goals for scholarship to serve more families every year.  
  • Empowers military families to maximize their school choice options by exempting the dependents of a member of the United States Armed Forces from any limitations of waitlists or maximum scholarship program enrollment.  
  • Expands use of scholarship funds to cover the full spectrum of a student’s educational expenses, such as tuition and fees, and transportation to another public school. For students with disabilities, scholarship funds cover: instructional materials, digital devices, assistive technologies, and related digital programs, assessments, and special tutors, transition services by job coaches, summer and after-school programs, and many other therapeutic and educational supports.