Full Florida Senate will vote on allowing chaplains in schools

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Teacher and students. By Drazen Zigic via iStock for WMNF News.

©2024 The News Service of Florida

The Senate Rules Committee on Monday approved a proposal that would authorize school districts to let volunteer chaplains provide services to students, setting up the bill for consideration by the full Senate.

Under the proposal (SB 1044), school districts could adopt policies that would allow chaplains to provide “supports, services and programs” for students, with certain requirements placed on such districts.

For example, the districts would have to describe in their policies services that would be provided and would have to get written parental consent before students could participate.

Districts also would be required to publish lists on their websites of the chaplains, including any religious affiliation they have.

Supporters of the bill have argued that allowing chaplains could help address students’ mental-health needs.

Critics, however, have raised questions about the bill not requiring specific training for chaplains.

Bill sponsor Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, said the measure would allow districts to make decisions about issues such as training requirements.

“If a school district would like there to be some kind of training about crisis response or child development that’s kind of part of their chaplaincy program, I don’t think that there’s anything in this policy that would prohibit that,” Grall said.

The House voted 89-25 last week to pass its version of the bill (HB 931).

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