Monday, August 12, 2019

Proposed law would cut funding to private Florida voucher schools that discriminate against students

Posted By on Mon, Aug 12, 2019 at 12:38 PM

  • Photo via Anna V. Eskamani campaign
An Orlando lawmaker aims to stop private voucher schools from discriminating against students across the state.

The new bill filed Friday by Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, would make private voucher schools comply with discrimination practices, ensuring they "may not deny enrollment to a student based on the student's race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity."

Right now, they can.

As reported by Orlando Sentinel, private schools across Florida, like Trinity Christian Academy in Deltona, receive millions worth of public vouchers. But they can discriminate against students, refusing to admit those who are disabled or LGBTQ.

The academy's official policy had stated students must have "no emotional disorders" or conditions like autism, Aspergers and Down syndrome. The school can expel students for being gay.

Eskamani, in a prepared statement Monday, said that the schools should be held accountable for "offensive policies."

“No publicly funded school should be allowed to discriminate,”she said. “We have seen bipartisan support for policies that support LGBTQ people and those who live with disabilities, and I hope my legislative colleagues would agree that this country has moved beyond the notion of ‘separate but equal’ and that we can — at the very least— hold private voucher schools accountable to these offensive and discriminatory practices.”

Under Eskamani's proposed bill, schools that don't change their policy will see their fund payments suspended or lose eligibility all together.

Along with discrimination policies, the law would seek to also require more stringent teacher qualifications in such schools. Teachers would now have to have a baccalaureate or higher degrees, plus 3 years of teaching experience in public or private schools.

As we previously reported, last May Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the controversial voucher bill (SB7070), which allows a very small percentage of Florida students (18,000 kids) to attend private, charter and religious schools using $130 million in public tax dollars.

This then leaves the state’s remaining 2.8 million other students in drastically underfunded school systems that already rank near the bottom in the country for per student spending.

In total, Tampa Bay area public schools are expected to lose $125,455,531 in funding, according to the The Florida Education Association.

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

Tags: , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 1, 2020

View more issues


© 2020 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation