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Florida Law Lets Parents Request Classroom Transfers For Their Children

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A sweeping Florida law about school choice has received most of its attention for the part that allows parents to make requests for their children to transfer outside of their school districts, as I explained in an in-depth story last month.

But another part of the law gives parents potentially more say within their own schools: requesting that their children be transferred to another classroom.

The Florida law requires school districts to set up processes for parents to request that their children be moved to other classroom teachers for any reason. However, the law does not allow parents to ask for a specific teacher. Schools would be required to respond to the request within two weeks and give an explanation if the application is denied.

Parents also could request that their children be moved to another classroom if they are assigned to out-of-field teachers—those who are not specifically trained or credentialed in the subjects or grades that they teach.

The Florida School Boards Association generally supports the concept of the law, said Ruth Melton, the group's director of government relations. But she does have some concerns.

Even though the law forbids parents from asking for a specific teacher, it gets tricky in smaller schools where, say, there are only two teachers per grade or subject.

For out-of-field teachers, schools most often would only assign those teachers to a class in unusual circumstances, for example, if the regular teacher has to go out on leave or there is an emergency situation.

"Fairness is the issue, and that's the thing that our boards are going to have to be careful about," Melton said.

The classroom transfer part of the law goes into effect for the 2016-17 school year, Melton said. Starting in 2017-18, districts must allow parents to request transfers outside of their districts.

Contact Sarah Tully at [email protected].

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