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2001 Opinions

Date:   August 7, 2001
Prepared By:   James A. Robinson
Phone:   (850) 488-7707
Suncom:   278-7707
Opinion No.:   01-13
Staff Contact:   Kevin Houston
MEMORANDUM OPINION
TO: All Superintendents of Schools
FROM: James A. Robinson, General Counsel
SUBJECT: The Barry Grunow Act: Teacher and School Administrator Death Benefits
RE: Letter from a Superintendent of Schools

QUESTION PRESENTED: What is the status of insurance coverage for deceased teachers and school administrators?

CONCLUSION: Section 112.1915(3), Florida Statutes, states in part that if a teacher or school administrator dies under certain conditions ($75,000 and $1000) "shall be paid, whether secured by insurance or not," to the beneficiary. The Act maintains that "state funding shall be provided annually in the General Appropriations Act." Hence, these "death benefits" will be provided by the State, not the local school districts.

DISCUSSION: Some of you may receive offers from various insurance companies attempting to sell you insurance coverage for deceased teachers and school administrators or similar coverage. Pursuant to the Barry Grunow Act passed by the 2001 Legislature, Section 112.1915, Florida Statutes, was created to provide each teacher and school administrator with special death benefits if he/she is killed or dies while in performance of his/her teaching duties. (See Ch. 2001-180, §§ 1-5, Laws of Florida). The statute defines teacher as "all instructional personnel" included under Section 228.041(9), Florida Statutes, and defines school administrator as "any school administrator" described in Section 228.041(10)(c), Florida Statutes. The "Act" provides for the following benefits:

  1. $75,000 to the beneficiary or heirs of the teacher or school administrator.
  2. $1,000 to be paid toward the funeral and burial expenses of such teacher or administrator
  3. Payment of health insurance premiums for the spouse and dependent children of the deceased teacher.
  4. Waiver of any state matriculation and tuition fees for the dependent children (until age 25) admitted into a state vocational / technical school, or community college, or university. All Superintendents of Schools

In addition, the law provides that:

  1. While the school board must pay the health insurance premiums and report the amount paid to the Department of Education, the Department of Education must provide reimbursement to the district for the premium payments. (See § 112.1915(3)(c), F.S.)
  2. The State must waive the amount of matriculation and fees for the children of the deceased to attend a public higher education institution. (See § 112.1915(3)(d), F.S.)
  3. State funding for the program must be provided annually in the General Appropriations Act. (See § 112.1915(5), F.S.)
  4. The Legislature appropriated $165,000 in the 2001-2002 GAB to cover the statewide expenses for these benefits. (Specific appropriation 138B). This amount covers reimbursement for benefits provided to the Barry Grunow family with additional monies reserved in case of another unfortunate incident in the state.

If you have further questions relating to this recent legislation, please feel free to call me at (850)-488-7707.

JAR/kh

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