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Key education reform bill to be signed into law by DeSantis

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(The Center Square) — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday that he’ll be signing some education reforms passed by the Florida Legislature into law.

DeSantis highlighted some of House Bill 1285, including how the bill would address schools struggling to produce good grades and student learning outcomes.

“We’re here today to be able to highlight this bill, and we’ll sign it hopefully soon when we get it from the Legislature,” DeSantis said. “But one of the things that this does, is it addresses…the Turn Around School Program that Florida has.”

DeSantis explained that the Turn Around School Program notifies school districts that they have two years to improve their grades if they have received a D or an F grade consecutively.

“When you have these schools that are in turnaround status, a district has options in terms of how to remediate, one of which is you can bring in an outside operator, you can revert it to a charter school, or you can just close the school,” DeSantis said.

According to DeSantis, some of these schools had tried other options that did not work, including becoming a charter school. DeSantis noted that this process was held up by school boards who refused to execute a plan and draw up a charter school contract required by Florida law.

DeSantis added, that in some cases, the Florida Department of Education and the state Board of Governors had to step in when school boards refused to execute a way forward, particularly for one Escambia County school that wanted to become a charter school.

DeSantis noted that when a school receives poor accountability grades, it must remediate that as soon as possible, not hold up the process.

“Most importantly, districts are going to have to act promptly to do this, and once you’re in turnaround status, if you choose that charter school route, you gotta enter into a contract, and you gotta move forward so that we can get a change for the better,” DeSantis said.

“Governor DeSantis has made it clear: We are committed to ensuring our students receive a high-quality education and we will not tolerate those trying to score cheap political points at the expense of our educational system,” said commissioner of education Manny Diaz Jr. “Because of Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida remains the beacon of educational opportunity and I am proud of the work we are doing across the state.”

DeSantis added that schools in turnaround status that choose the charter school route will not be charged rent or administration fees to help ease the burden for the school so they can focus on improving grades.

“If you know something’s not working, we have a responsibility to act and act quickly,” DeSantis said.