DeSantis Designates 114 Purple Star Schools to Help Military Students

November 15, 2022 Updated 4:48 PM ET

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OKALOOSA COUNTY (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the Purple Star School Teacher Leadership Program: 35 schools in Okaloosa County will now be designated as Purple Star schools. A total of 114 Purple Star schools will be designated in 10 school districts across the state of Florida.

Last year, DeSantis signed a law to establish the Purple Star Campus Program via the Florida Department of Education.

The Purple Star Campus Program recognizes schools that go above and beyond to help children of military families succeed. The schools that apply must designate a faculty member as the military point of contact and establish a student-led transition program where military students are connected with non-military peers that can help them engage in school activities. They are also obligated to reserve at least five percent of open enrollment seats for military students and provide teachers with more professional development specialized for military students.

“We wanted to make sure in Florida we’re doing all that we can to head off these challenges and to make sure that our school system was very sensitive to some of the challenges posed when you have active duty military that are constantly moving around,” said DeSantis.

Okaloosa County has the highest percentage of military student enrollment out of any school district in the state of Florida.

“I’m happy to announce today that 35 schools in Okaloosa county will now be designated as Purple Star schools. We’re also designating another 79 schools across the state of Florida for a total of 114 purple star schools in 10 school districts throughout Florida,” said DeSantis.

In addition to Okaloosa County, Brevard, Citrus, Clay, Duval, Escambia, Hillsborough, Monroe, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties will now be designated as Purple Star schools.

“This is a big deal for the state and I think it’s gonna be something that’s gonna be very beneficial for our military families and for their kids,” said DeSantis.

Earlier this year, DeSantis signed a legislation allowing veterans with four years of military experience and an associate’s degree to obtain a five year temporary teaching certificate while they work toward their bachelor’s degree. Since then, 495 veterans have applied for this program.

“We recognize that active duty service as something that is very meaningful and can have a very positive benefit with students in the classroom,” said DeSantis.

Today, DeSantis announced that he’s directing Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. and the Florida Department of Education to create a first of its kind, Purple Star School Teacher Leadership Program.

Through the program, the department will work with the Purple star schools in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Escambia, and Walton counties to set up their own teacher certification and professional development programs. Each school will recruit veterans to take part in the program as they work toward their teaching certificate with each one given a mentor teacher. They will also recruit veterans to help provide professional development and focus on the needs of military families.

“Not only will this program employ veterans, it will also allow districts and schools to conduct their own educator professional development and to certify their own teachers and so I think what we were able to do is really move the ball forward across a wide variety of fronts, I’m proud that Okaloosa county is leading the way with this new program and we look forward to be able to continue to serve the families of active duty military person,” DeSantis went on.

Diaz thanked DeSantis for making Florida a military-friendly state and for his leadership in the Purple Star Teacher Leadership program.

“Thank you Governor DeSantis for your leadership on this. Purple Star Teacher Leadership program is gonna really dovetail with the military pathway certification and really bring more veterans into our schools, providing them professional development at the local level where it’s best, so they can serve the population in that community, whether its a military community like here in the Panhandle or all over our state so that is a great item that we look forward to putting into place. Governor, thank you for leading on that and it’s always great to have a governor who continues to fight for those that fight for us,” said Diaz.

“We wanna continue to make these communities really, really strong so I’m excited about today. Thank you for our Northwest Florida communities for really leading the way on this and I think that this is gonna be a great, great success,” said DeSantis.

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