House preps bill loosening School Board candidate residency requirements for final vote

The bill is one of a number this Session that will change School Board governance.

A bill that would loosen residency requirements for School Board candidates — bringing them more in line with most other local elected offices — has been readied for full House passage.

The legislation (HB 411) from Republican Rep. Kevin Steele of Dade City is among a number of Republican bills aiming to reshape how School Board seats are filled across the state. Gov. Ron DeSantis has taken an unprecedented interest in School Boards as the first Governor to identify a slate of candidates he wished to see voted into office.

“I’m putting this in line with the rest of the elected officials in the state of Florida,” Steele said, responding to the question of why he was introducing the measure.

Under the bill, School Board candidates would not have to reside in the district they are seeking to represent until the time of election. Currently, School Board candidates have to be in residence at the time of qualifying.

Steele in committee said his bill was inspired by how one School Board member in his district was challenged in his election because he was not in his house at the time of qualifying because his house was being repaired for mold.

The change would put School Board elections in line with the residency requirements of other major elected offices in the state. Senators, Representatives and County Commissioners must reside in the place they are running to represent at the time of the election. For county constitutional officers, the elected individual doesn’t have to reside in the county until assuming office.

Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said the rules for legislative and county commission candidates show the rules for School Board races should remain as they are.

“I’ve had folks file against me that did not live in my district and it made no sense,” Eskamani said.

Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon said the legislation would create political opportunism on the School Board level.

Republican Sen. Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill has proposed identical legislation (SB 444) that, like Steele’s bill, has run into Democratic opposition. So far, it’s gotten one committee nod, with all three Democrats on the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections voting against it.

Democratic lawmakers, most opposing the legislation, say it ignores the unique role School Boards play in community life. And that Steele’s reason for introducing the bill could be addressed with less sweeping changes.

Other School Board-focused legislation on the move would make it so that School Board elections are partisan, allow School Board candidates to list their party affiliation on advertising, and drop the limit on School Board terms from the 12-year limit passed last year to an eight-year limit.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • David Pakman

    March 30, 2023 at 3:14 pm

    Gonna have a lot of whackos and political tourists showing up to piss the locals off. This will not bode well for those who stick their nose where it doesn’t belong. There might even be assasinations. DeSanctimonious is creating a lot of problems. He might have to move to New York after his term is up.

  • Andrew T. Linko

    March 30, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    Why not? Trump and GOP Education Secretary, and top DeSanris contributors Betsy DeVos, had NO college degree, no educational administration experience, NO teaching experience. Just right wing ideologues to destroy education!

  • tom palmer

    March 30, 2023 at 4:34 pm

    Well, we just had someone from Martin County file for an expected County Commission vacancy in Polk County. It is a world gone mad.

  • Mark Tilham

    March 31, 2023 at 9:38 am

    Worst legislation in any state. We can’t sell our schools to the highest bidder. Communities are grounded by a robust public school system, not a compromised DeSanctified mess.

  • JD

    March 31, 2023 at 9:55 am

    You watch, there’s going to be a full on revolt over this legislation session among the voters. I see an NPA wave coming.

    “It’s not the heat. It’s the stupidity”

Comments are closed.


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