Media Contact

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 20, 2024
CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

February 20, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL – On Tuesday, the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee on Education voted to advance Senate Bill 1044 (SB 1044), which would allow school districts and charter schools to adopt “a policy to authorize volunteer school chaplains to provide support, services, and programs to students as assigned by the district school board or charter school governing board.” 

The ACLU of Florida opposes this bill and its companion bill, House Bill 931 (HB 931). 

Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel at the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following: 

“Chaplains have no place in public schools. Student support services must be provided by trained, certified school professionals, not government-selected volunteer clergy.

“Additionally, chaplains are not trained or certified in providing student support services. Florida’s students are entitled to receive support services from school professionals trained for these roles and certified by the Department of Education. For example, school counselors must obtain certification from the Florida Department of Education, which requires them to have a master’s or higher degree with a graduate major in guidance and counseling or school counseling plus 600 hours of supervised internship experience working with school-aged children. 

“SB 1044, and its companion bill HB 931, does not require volunteer chaplains to have any training, certification, or other professional credentials or qualifications relating to the provision of student support services. 

“Courts have repeatedly ruled that it is unconstitutional for public schools to invite religious leaders onto campus to engage in religious activities, such as prayer and religious counseling, with students. 

“If passed, this bill will likely create public education environments ripe for religious coercion and indoctrination of students. Florida’s public schools are religiously diverse, and all students should feel safe and welcome in them.”