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Parent trigger wins support in Senate committee stop

Another committee stop, another show of support for the parent trigger bill.

The proposal, which would allow parents to demand sweeping changes at struggling public schools, including having the school converted into a charter school, had its final hearing in the Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee Thursday morning. 

It picked up an amendment from Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, that waters it down some. As the bill was initially drafted by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, the State Board of Education would be the arbiter if the school district opposed the parents' plans. The Simmons amendment gives the final say to the school system.

The Florida PTA supported the amendment. But the PTA and other parent groups spoke out against the overall bill, saying it would open the door for for-profit charter school companies to take over failing public schools.

Even with the amendment, the trigger bill failed to win the support of the four Democrats on the panel: Sens. Bill Montford, Joseph Abruzzo, Dwight Bullard and Maria Sachs. But the eight Republicans on the dais voted to move the proposal along to its final committee stop.

Observers are expecting a big battle if the bill reaches the Senate floor.

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