The Florida House passed two bills last week that would allow students who claim they were bullied to use taxpayer dollars to attend private school.
The House Education Committee approved a stand-alone bill that created the program, while the full House voted in favor of the 200-page HB 7055, which included the controversial proposal.
The “Hope Scholarship” program would provide scholarships to thousands of students who allegedly suffered abuse.
The program will be funded through auto sales, specifically the contributions that motorists make when purchasing a vehicle. In exchange for the contribution, the buyer would receive a tax credit.
The Hope Scholarship was introduced by Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, whose wife, Erika Donalds, serves on the Collier County School Board.
“This is a bill to help the victims of our state, to escape their schools if they cannot function anymore,” Donalds said.
Democrats opposed the bill, arguing that it is an attempt to expand the use of taxpayer dollars for private schools, while doing little to address the problem of bullying in schools.
“It does not guarantee that we are going to deal with the problem of, ‘how are we going to stop the bullying?’ “ said Rep. Bruce Antone, D-Orlando. “It does not guarantee that the recipient of a hope scholarship will get a quality education.”