The Hope Scholarship
The Hope Scholarship is for students in grades kindergarten through 12 who are enrolled in a Florida public school and have been subjected to an incident of battery; harassment; hazing; bullying; kidnapping; simple battery; robbery; sexual offenses, sexual harassment, sexual assault, or sexual battery; threat or intimidation; or fighting at school to have the opportunity to transfer to another public school with capacity or to receive a scholarship to enroll in an approved private school. Incidents reported may be investigated at the district level, however, there does not have to be substantiation on the part of the district to offer a transfer to another public school with capacity or the ability for the student to move to an eligible private school on scholarship. School district personnel in Florida have a responsibility to notify families of the Hope Scholarship Program. For more details on the scholarship, please visit Step Up For Students, the Scholarship Funding Organization that administers this program.
The law provides for eligible sales tax contributions from the purchase of a motor vehicle to eligible nonprofit scholarship funding organizations (SFOs). Contingent upon available funds, the SFOs then award the scholarships to eligible students on a first-come, first-served basis.
Hope Scholarship – District Obligations
Pursuant to section 1002.40(6), Florida Statutes, school district personnel in Florida have a responsibility to notify families of the Hope Scholarship Program. Incidents reported may be investigated at the district level, however, there does not have to be substantiation on the part of the district in order to offer a transfer to another public school with capacity or the ability for the student to move to an eligible private school on scholarship. Districts are also obligated by law to adopt and review at least every three years a policy that among other provisions prohibits bullying and harassment of a student or employee of a public K-12 educational institution. This policy must be publicized in the code of student conduct required by all districts.
Additionally, Section 1006.09(6), Florida Statutes, requires that principals submit accurate School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting (SESIR) system and discipline data to the state using the Automated Student Information System. Each school principal must ensure that standardized forms prescribed by rule of the State Board of Education are used to report data concerning school safety and discipline to the department. The school principal must develop a plan to verify the accuracy of reported incidents. Therefore, beginning in the 2020-21 school year, the Department will begin collecting data from schools and districts on the number of Hope Scholarship Notification Forms given to families to pursue education in private schools.