Scholarship approved to transfer students experiencing COVID-19 harassment – CBS Tampa


TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – This school year, parents will be able to transfer their children to another school or district if they do not want their children to participate in a district’s mask mandate.

On Friday morning, the Florida Department of Education held an emergency meeting and approved a scholarship that will pay for the transfer of students.

READ MORE: Parents express concerns over mask policies in local districts

Earlishia Oates, a parent at Hillsborough County Schools, said, “I understand the options, so I understand that part, but it’s really scary.”

Damaris Bridges, another parent at Hillsborough County Schools, says: “I’m afraid they’re only thinking of one select group of parents because that’s how it seems to look. “

Bridges and Oates are both parents in Hillsborough County schools and fear the new policy could cause problems.

“I’m afraid this will take much-needed funds away from our already starving public schools,” Bridges said.

At Friday morning’s emergency meeting, the Florida Department of Education voted to allow parents concerned about mask harassment to take advantage of the Hope scholarship program. The scholarship in recent years has been used to pay a student who has been bullied to transfer to another school or district, but it’s something Oates says shouldn’t be used in response to COVID-19 policies.

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“For families with disabled or 504 children. I really think this is a bad option, especially because the child might not be able to get all the accommodations he needs to be successful,” said Oates.

The new scholarship change comes after Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order last Friday stating that parents have the right to decide whether or not students can wear masks. Ben Gibson, a member of the State Board of Education, said this during the emergency meeting.

“It’s giving priority to the parents’ choice. If you’re going to have a mask requirement, then the parents should be given the option to opt out, ”Gibson said.

Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis said on Friday he wanted as many children as possible to speak out in the district and for now he would continue to recommend only that students wear masks . Meanwhile, Bridges says she believes the ability for students to leave the district will hurt the public school system.

“It’s important to recognize that schools that are community based, they feed the community, right. They tend to be the center of the community. This is where kids find their friends and where you meet neighbors and build relationships, ”said Bridges.

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Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis said he would continue to review the caseload and change policies if necessary.

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