M-DCPS is considering having volunteer chaplains in campuses

DORAL, FL – Miami-Dade Schools could be the first Florida district to have volunteer chaplains in campuses following HB 931 signed into law last month by Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

The law authorizes school districts and charter schools to allow volunteer chaplains into their campuses after they pass a background check screening and have their name and religious affiliation listed on the school’s website.

The measure, optional for students and subjected to parental permission, aims at providing a way to help kids navigate difficult emotions and situations.

The Miami-Dade County School Board is on favor of using this tool. This week school board member Roberto Alonso proposed the item to be discussed in a meeting and he received support from those who think the program would “provide additional resources to students”. 

But state representatives and members of the community that critique the law argue it could exclude children of certain faiths as most likely chaplains will be of a specific faith, while they are also concerned there is no training requirements for volunteer chaplains and some districts could use them in replacement of professional counselors. 

Regarding this point, during the school board meeting, Alonso said chaplains will not substitute school counselors at all. “This program in no way, in no form is going to replace our school counselors,” said Alonso. 

Following the school board meeting, to move forward with the plan, the district staff now needs to study if the program could be implemented in schools and what aspects should be considered. In line with this purpose, board members are requesting further information from the state.

“Written legal opinion from the Florida Attorney General, as well as written guidance from the Department of Education to be contemplated, and feasibility and determination to be included in the report to the school board,” said board member Dr. Steve Gallon III.


Photo by: Unsplash.com

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