Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, during a press conference Tuesday at Fort Walton Beach High School, announced 114 schools in 10 counties across the state will be designated as Florida’s first class of Purple Star campuses in recognition of their support for the children of military families.
Fort Walton Beach High School, located in Okaloosa County, was selected as the site for the announcement because it has the highest percentage of military child enrollment of any school district in the state.
Additionally, the Department of Education (DOE) will work with Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Escambia, and Walton counties to create a first of its kind teacher leadership program at Purple Star schools to both help veterans earn their teaching certification and help other teachers learn how to best serve military families. This program will allow Purple Star schools to fill teaching positions and help qualified teachers receive their certification more quickly.
“Purple Star schools have the tools and knowledgeable faculty needed to help children of military families succeed regardless of the obstacles they face,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We also recognize that no one can better relate to these children than those who have served, which is why we are encouraging our veterans to teach at these schools and across the state.”
“Congratulations to the schools that have been designated as Purple Star Schools of Distinction,” said Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. “Under Governor DeSantis, Florida has raised the bar for military-friendly education initiatives. The Purple Star program is another leap forward in ensuring that military families and students receive the support they need to be successful and the schools that serve them are recognized.”
Purple Star campuses must meet certain requirements designed to support the unique needs of military children and their families as they transition into a new school and navigate a new community. Those requirements include:
- Designating a faculty member as the military liaison to directly support families;
- Updating the school website with resources for military students and families;
- Offering a student-led transition program to assist military students in acclimating into a school;
- Expanding staff professional development training opportunities on issues relating to military students; and
- Reserving controlled, open enrollment seats for military-connected students to utilize to ensure school choice opportunities are available to them, regardless of the time of year their military transfer takes place.
The Purple Star teacher leadership program builds on legislation signed earlier this year to allow veterans with four years of military experience and an associate’s degree to obtain a 5-year temporary teaching certificate while they work towards earning a bachelor’s degree. Through the program, schools in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Escambia, and Walton counties will actively recruit veterans to become teachers and then help them earn their certification directly from the school, without having to experience any delays from DOE. The program will also connect veterans with opportunities to finish their schooling at nearby colleges, getting veterans experience in the classroom and partnering veterans with mentor-teachers. Learn more about the Military Veterans Certification Pathway here.