by Pat Raia, [email protected]
A measure that would amend civics education in Florida schools, and one that would under certain circumstances expunge the non-judicial arrest records of juvenile offenders will not become law after they were both vetoed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on June 29.
Under SB 247, Juvenile Diversion Program Expunction bill, would require the Department of Law Enforcement to expunge the arrest records of minors who have successfully completed a diversion program for any offense. Currently, Florida law allows such expulsion for misdemeanor offenses only.
According to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, diversion uses programs that are alternatives to the formal juvenile system for youths who have been charged with minor crimes. Those programs include Community Arbitration, Teen Court, mentoring, alternative schools, Boy and Girl Scouts, and Boys and Girls Club programs.
In his veto statement, DeSantis expressed his concern about the public safety consequences of the measure.
“I have concerns that the unfettered ability to expunge serious felonies, including sexual battery, from a juvenile’s record may have negative impacts on public safety,” DeSantis wrote.
Had it been signed into law, SB 247 would have become effective on July 1.
DeSantis also declined to sign SB 146, Civic Literacy Education.
Under that bill, the Commissioner of Education would be required to develop criteria for a civic literacy course that “helps students evaluate the roles, rights, and responsibilities of US citizenship, and to identify effective methods of actively participating in society, government and the political system.”
The course would have been incorporated into high school-level U.S government studies at the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic year.
DeSantis declined to sign SB 146 on grounds that the Department of Education is already working to adopt new civics education standards and on developing a new curriculum aligned with those standards. In addition, the measure could be used to promote certain ideology, DeSantis’ veto statement said.
“The proposed bill seeks to further so-called ‘action civics,’” he wrote, “but does so in a way that risks promoting the preferred orthodoxy of two particular institutions.”
Had it been signed, SB 146 would have gone into effect on July 1.