House passes loosened residency requirements for School Board candidates

Exam at school with student's taking educational admission test
Democrats: School Board seats should not be opened to political opportunists as this would allow.

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

The approval, via an 83-28 vote, means that (HB 411) from Republican Rep. Kevin Steele of Dade City would next head to the Senate.

“The voters are the backstop,” Steele said, answering concerns about whether it will bring in candidates who don’t know the area they seek to represent.

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.

Identical legislation (SB 444) that Republican Sen. Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill has proposed is awaiting its second committee approval.

The bill 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.

Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon of Jacksonville raised the issue of whether this would open up School Board races to “opportunists”

“It will open it up to people who just want to win an easy election,” she said.

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 living at home 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.

Democrats, however, say that School Boards are unique among elected offices and moving them closer in line with other elected offices will open them up to political opportunists, rather than candidates focused on the wellbeing of children and their education.

Other School Board-focused legislation Republicans are seeking 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]


  • Wake up America!

    March 31, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    Another ridiculous and unnecessary bill by the Republicans!

  • Harold

    March 31, 2023 at 2:19 pm

    Another ridiculous and unnecessary bill by the Republicans!

  • Mercury Shampoo Ed

    March 31, 2023 at 4:07 pm

    Now they can send far right nut jobs to attack counties and attempt to disrupt whatever natural order they have going on there. The FGOP is a pain in everyone’s azz. Desperate and degraded from years of doing everything they can to pizz people off. Backed by stupid people from out back in the woods somewhere.

Comments are closed.


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