Legislature approves giving charter school students more choice on where to play sports

Students boy prepare to leaving the starting for relay race boy at school sports day. School sports day concept.
Charter students, by statute, are now required to play with the public schools they would otherwise attend. This would change that.

New terms of engagement for school sports await the Governor’s signature as legislation that allows charter school students to play in private school sports and other extracurriculars passed the legislative finish line.

Every member of the House voted for legislation (SB 190) that was substituted for the identical House bill (HB 259). If Gov. Ron DeSantis agrees, it would allow charter school students across Florida to “develop an agreement to participate at a private school … in any interscholastic extracurricular activity of that school.” The bill also allows Florida Virtual School students to do the same.

Freshman Republican Rep. Robert Brackett of Vero Beach introduced the legislation that was quickly whisked to passage Thursday. Republican Sen. Erin Grall, also of Vero Beach, carried the Senate version of the legislation through committee and did not encounter one “nay” through that process.

The bill sought to correct a specific situation that developed at the Master’s Academy in Vero Beach as a result of Florida statutes that dictate charter school students must play at the public school they’d otherwise attend.

Someone lodged a challenge about an arrangement that had charter school students playing sports at Master’s Academy with the Sunshine State Athletic Conference last year.

The complaint forced the charter school players off the Master’s Academy team roster in the middle of some students’ senior year. And the athletic conference also overturned all of the wins the Master’s Academy Patriots notched up until that point, demoting the team to a lower bracket ahead of the state playoffs (which they ended up winning anyway).

This legislation, which encountered no resistance as it moved through committees, beat another set of similar companion bills in the race to approval.

Similar legislation (HB 225, SB 308) would have also opened up where to play to more student choice, beyond where students went to school. But provisions in both those bills would have changed the governance of the Florida High School Athletic Association.

The House passed a controversial provision that would have given the Governor direct power to appoint eight of the nine board members of the athletic association. It’s a power that only one other governor has, according to the Tampa Bay Times,

The ninth person on the board, in that legislation, would have been the Education Commissioner, who the Governor taps to serve before the state Board of Education agrees. But the Senate amended the bill and made the FHSAA board a 13-member board, with four members chosen by the athletic association’s board members.

The bill was sent back to the House on April 5 and hasn’t moved from messages since.

The FHSAA became embroiled in controversy when it briefly made reporting on menstrual cycles mandatory for female athletes, but quickly changed course as outrage grew. Republican Rep. Fred Hawkins said the legislation was drafted before discussion on that issue erupted.


Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

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].

One comment

  • Pill Mill McBooze

    April 20, 2023 at 9:28 pm

    Just stupid law after stupid law.

Comments are closed.


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