Gov. DeSantis approves language allowing recurring funding for private Jewish school security

jewish schools
The measure comes as acts of antisemitism have been on the rise.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a measure allowing lawmakers to make security funding for private Jewish day schools a recurring part of the state budget.

The legislation (HB 1109) will direct the Florida Department of Education to establish a regular funding model for guards, cameras, fencing, impact windows, perimeter lighting and related security costs at Jewish schools.

On its own, the bill establishes no monetary commitment.

Sarasota Republican Joe Gruters, the measure’s sponsor in the Senate, noted this past Session that there has been a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents since the Oct. 7 attack on western Israel by Palestinian Hamas terrorists.

He also said that a doubling in Jewish day school enrollment over the past five years necessitates a more reliable funding source.

“This is something both chambers unanimously supported as recently as the Special Session in November,” Gruters said, referring to a $25 million earmark approved that month to pay for added safeguards at 134 Jewish day schools in the state.

DeSantis also set aside a separate $20 million pot in December to be split evenly between Jewish day schools and four Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The bill’s passage in the Senate was far less divisive than in the House, where six Democratic lawmakers voted “no” after sponsor Randy Fine, a Palm Bay Republican, referred to comments Gainesville Democratic Rep. Yvonne Hinson made about the bill as “garbage.”

Hinson, who also challenged the bill at a committee stop in January, incorrectly asserted that HB 1109 “gives $50 million” to Jewish schools while no state funding is given to public school security.

“I need to call attention to that,” she said. “Fifty million dollars (for) 100 private schools. School safety for all 67 counties? Not one dollar.”

Fine, who is Jewish, lambasted Hinson for misrepresenting his legislation. According to a House staff analysis of the bill and statewide school expenditures, the Legislature has given $1.2 billion to public school districts since 2018 to improve security provisions on campuses and hundreds of millions more for school hardening.

Hinson and Reps. LaVon Bracy DavisAshley GanttPatricia Hawkins-WilliamsMichele Rayner and Felicia Robinson voted against the measure. Both Bracy Davis and Hawkins-Williams had previously voted “yes” on the bill in committee.

Robinson later told Florida Politics she voted “no” not because she opposes the bill’s aims, but due to the contempt Fine showed Hinson, the chamber’s oldest Democratic member.

“For Rep. Fine to stand there on the floor and call (her) garbage, that was triggering. And it wasn’t addressed,” she said. “Everybody was going to vote up on the bill, for the most part. It wasn’t a bad bill. But this was about disrespect. It happens quite often, and it gets to be emotional.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • JustBabs

    June 25, 2024 at 9:30 am

    Shouldn’t he have given security funding to ALL school’s. Seems all of them are in danger, in the US,

    • Michael K

      June 25, 2024 at 9:33 am

      It’s called pandering – which is what passes for “policy” in this administration.

  • LexT

    June 25, 2024 at 10:13 am

    It’s called the Public Schools got massive hardening funding after Marjorie Stoneman Douglas. The private Jewish schools need it now because somehow the Democratic party has started to condone Anti-Semitism. Pro-Hamas is anti-semitism.

    • Michael K

      June 25, 2024 at 10:27 am

      Uh, no. Look at the White supremacy movement, long-festering and finding safe harbor in the Republican party. Remember Charlottesville? Remember those chants? The marchers with torches called “good people” by the current republican nominee for president?

      No one in the Democratic party leadership is “pro-Hamas,” but there are plenty of people in the party and in this nation who are horrified by the deaths of more than 30,000 Palestinian people and the mass starvation taking place for people with nowhere to go. Sympathizing with the humanitarian crisis is not a pro-terrorist position.

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