Partisan School Boards May Make a Comeback after a Quarter-Century Hiatus in Florida

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. 

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Man speaking from podium
Florida District 3 representative Dr. Joel Rudman speaks to an audience at Northwest Florida State College about HB 571. The bill, if passed, would grant combat medics postsecondary credit for the skills they learned in the military.
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