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House bill eyes school district police chiefs, but state won’t pay for them

Three-year contracts will be required under this bill.

If a newly filed bill in the Florida House becomes law, some school districts will be required to hire police chiefs.

However, paying for those positions will be a problem for the individual districts themselves to solve.

HB 839, filed by Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kim Daniels, would require all school districts with police forces to hire a police chief.

And that chief would have job security; the legislation as filed contemplates no less than a three-year deal. However, salary and benefits are left open.

Also open: the question of who pays for this. The bill language doesn’t specify.

Not all districts have in-house police forces. However, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement notes that at least fourteen districts do have them.

Many of these forces are in larger counties, such as Daniels’ own Duval, as well as in Miami-Dade. However, smaller districts such as Nassau County also have dedicated police forces.

Small or large, districts have struggled with increased requirements for school security over the years, and especially after the Parkland massacre in Feb. 2018.

Daniels’ own Duval County is no exception.

In an effort to comply with SB 7026, the school safety bill passed after the Parkland massacre, Duval County decided to use “school safety assistants.”

The program was instituted as a budget measure. The state provided $3.6 million of “safe schools” money, which allowed the district to fund 107 positions at $12.50 an hour. Jacksonville police officers would have cost over $10 million to fund for a similar role.

In her tenure in the Florida House, the iconoclastic Democrat has carried a number of bills that impact education.

HB 303, the “Florida Student and School Personnel Religious Liberties Act,” passed in 2017. That bans “discriminating … on basis of religious viewpoints or expression” against school staff and employees. HB 839, a bill requiring school districts to display Florida’s motto “In God We Trust,” passed in 2018.

This year, she has filed two other bills that would impact schools.

One bill would require a moment of silence at the beginning of school days.

And another would require schools to offer elective courses in Bible study. This would include studies of the Old and New Testaments, as well as Hebrew Scripture.

Though the Bible study bill died last year, it’s back for 2020.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at

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