'Parent trigger' bill passes House committee


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A bill to allow parents of kids in failing schools to petition to have the school turned over to a charter company is gaining traction.

The so-called "parent trigger" bill passed a key House committee Tuesday morning over the objections of parents and teachers.

In a packed committee room, parents and teachers stepped to the microphone to voice their concerns over the bill at hand.

"This would pit parents versus teachers," teacher Donald Peace said.

The petition would have to get signatures from a majority of parents.

More than a dozen people waived their time in opposition to the bill at the committee hearing. A dozen more chose to speak.

"It uses parents in a time when they are most vulnerable," Peace said.

"We believe this is nothing more than a continued ploy to turn our schools over to for-profit companies," said Jeff Wright of the Florida Education Association.

Only one parent spoke in favor of the bill -- Lanetra Daniels who has three kids in the public school system.

"I believe that having parents who have an active say in their child's education is needed," Daniels said.

The bill passed on a party line vote.

Would the legislation allow charter companies to run big-money campaigns to take over a school?

"For-profit charter schools are prohibited from spending money to influence parents under my bill," said Rep. Carlos Trujillo, the bill's sponsor. "Parents are also prohibited from accepting gifts."

The parent trigger bill almost passed last session, but it died in the Senate over concerns about would own the public buildings if charter schools took over.

If the bill were in place right now, parents at 25 Florida schools could petition to have the school turned over to a charter company.