A bill allowing school board candidates to declare a party when they run for office has continued to hop hurdles in the Florida State House. The body passed a measure to allow school board members to identify as a Republican, Democrat or any other party on the ballot, starting in 2026.
The bill, co-sponsored by Santa Rosa and Northern Okaloosa County State Representative Dr. Joel Rudman, passed with a 79-34 vote on the last day of March along party lines – with Republican votes carrying the day for the bill.
Currently, school board members cannot align directly with a political party – though they can highlight their party activities on the résumés when they run for a school board seat.
School board members previously ran as partisans, or candidates aligned directly with a political party, until 2000 – when the state law was changed to require them to run without a party affiliation.
The bill has two more hurdles to clear if it is to become law. It must pass with a majority in the Republican-controlled Florida Senate and be signed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.