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December 14, 2001

CONTACT: Lauren Cain
Director of Communications

Florida Board of Education Recommends Comprehensive Revision of State's "School Code"

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Board of Education today completed broad, public policy debate of the state's education laws, resulting in a comprehensive recommendation to revise the Florida School Code to support the state's transition to a seamless, student-centered education governance system.

"Devolution and accountability — for the first time, those two vital elements of education are now contained throughout the laws that govern education," said Phil Handy, chairman of the Florida Board of Education.

"These recommendations are the result of truly collaborative effort led by the Florida Board of Education and in cooperation with the Commissioner of Education," said Jim Horne, secretary of the Florida Board of Education. "This is a huge step in moving Florida toward an education system that serves all students."

The recommendations complete the Florida Board of Education's process of granting non-state agency status to state universities and the devolution of authority to local education governing boards in the new K-20 education system.

Calling this a "bold enterprise," Chairman Handy, said the board will use this as a model for its public policy discussions in the future.

The 2001 Florida Legislature directed the Florida Board of Education to recommend by January 1, 2002, a "clear, concise new School Code, comprised of chapters 228-246, to accomplish the implementation administration, and operation of Florida's seamless K-20 education system . . ." Both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate are also conducting school code reviews for consideration during the 2002 Legislative session.

The Florida Board of Education initiated the full review of education laws in August. Secretary Horne and Commissioner of Education Charlie Crist appointed a 24-member workgroup to conduct the review, consisting of representatives from every education delivery system; public, private and home education; as well as educators, students and parents. The review of the 19 chapters of law related to education was conducted over a five-month period through 11 meetings held throughout the state.

A website provided access for public input and suggestions, as well as progress reports on specific chapters of law under review.

The process generated over 4,000 recommendations through more than 60 hours of meetings. In conducting the review, the workgroup established the following guiding principles as the basis of its recommendations:

  • Reflect the K-20 seamless education philosophy
  • Reflect a focus on students and learning
  • Reduce overly prescriptive provisions
  • Make chapters of law user-friendly
  • Maintain statutory authority for state and local policy development

Based on the workgroup's review, the Secretary made the following recommendations for each chapter of law:

  • Maintain certain sections of law
  • Make technical changes to certain sections to correct terminology, timelines, obsolete dates or outdated provisions.
  • Eliminate obsolete, unfounded or outdated provisions.
  • Amend certain sections to meet the principles of the new education governance system.

The recommendations reorganize and consolidate the Florida School Code from 5,000 pages and 19 chapters of law to 14 newly titled chapters that reflect the priorities of the new K-20 system. For example, the proposed Chapter 228 is entitled "Rights, Choices and Education Excellence," and includes laws related to student and parental rights, school choice and independent education. Proposed Chapter 230 is entitled "Local Governance" and includes laws related to district school boards, community college governing boards and university governing boards.

The recommendations will be presented to the Governor, the Legislature, the Commissioner of Education, and the Education Governance Reorganization Transition Task Force as required by law.