Parents could request to hold their young student back a grade for next school year, but time may be an issue

By: - June 29, 2021 3:34 pm

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Parents of elementary-aged students may be able to hold their children back a grade due to academic concerns for the upcoming 2021-22 school year, as families continue to think about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact.

Gov. Ron DeSantis still must approve the measure and sign it into law.

But one of the issues is the deadline: Principals are required to consider such a request as of June 30, 2021, just one day away. After that, it will be up to a principal’s discretion whether to meet with a parent and consider if a student should stay back a year or not.

The legislation in question says that a “parent or guardian may request that his or her K-5 public school student be retained for the 2021-2022 school year in the grade level to which the student was assigned at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, provided that such request is made for academic reasons,” to be reviewed by the child’s principal.

To add to the confusion, the legislation, if approved by DeSantis, is slated to take effect on July 1 — a day after the deadline is set in the bill.

That said, the legislation would give principals the opportunity to consider requests made after the June 30 deadline, but at their discretion. Meaning if a parent misses the June 30 deadline to request that their elementary-aged child stay back a grade, the principal may decide not to hear it.

The overarching legislation is sponsored by Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera, a Republican who represents part of Miami-Dade County.

But the student retention language in the bill was added on by Sen. Lori Berman, a Democrat who represents part of Palm Beach County. Berman’s addition was approved by both the House and Senate and the legislation was sent to the governor’s desk Monday evening.

Berman originally proposed her own bill regarding student retention during the 2021 session as a response to the stressful COVID-19 school year students have had, but it didn’t get through the legislative process.

“A lot of students have had problems this academic year,” Berman said at the time, noting the worries of “COVID slide” which is the concern that the COVID-19 pandemic may have resulted in learning loss and exacerbated existing achievement gaps.

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.