The Senate on Monday unanimously passed a bill that would help military families identify schools specifically tailored to their unique circumstances.
The bill (HB 429) requires the Department of Education to establish a Purple Star Campus Program. The program aims to identify schools that best support the children of military families.
Fort Walton Beach Republican Rep. Patt Maney and Brandon Democrat Andrew Learned are the House bill sponsors.
“As a veteran and the father of two wonderful 8-year-olds, I know the process of changing schools, particularly in the middle of a school year, can be incredibly difficult for families and students,” Learned said in a statement upon House passage last week. “We want to recognize the schools that invest in programs that will help our military students transition when their parents’ assignments change.”
Schools will be recognized as Purple Star Campuses if they meet certain requirements including having a designated staff member serve as a military liaison, a resource webpage for military families and a student-led transition program for military students.
Schools are also required to offer professional development training opportunities for staff members and reserve at least 5% of open enrollment seats for military-connected students.
Further, the Department of Education is authorized to establish additional criteria to identify schools that demonstrate a commitment to or provide critical transition support for military-connected families.
Florida would become the 10th state to develop and implement a Purple Star School Program if signed into law.
Schools are authorized to partner with a school district to procure digital, professional development, or other assistance necessary to implement criteria under the program.
“I am privileged to serve a district with a large population of service members, military dependents and veterans and a school district that supports them,” said Maney, a retired Brigadier General in the U.S Army. “I hope this bill will showcase Florida’s many military friendly schools.”