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Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Chaplains as school counselors? Final Senate committee says yes

The bill would allow chaplains to act as guidance counselors in K-12 schools in Florida.

A bill that would allow chaplains to act as school counselors in K-12 schools in Florida has passed its last committee in the Florida Senate.

After almost an hour of public comment, the Rules Committee voted to allow chaplains to provide support, services and programs to students as approved by school boards.

Dr. Russell Meyer, director of the Florida Council of Churches, addressed the committee before the vote. He opposed the bill as a clergy member and Christian.

“This is not a good idea. It will cause psychological and spiritual harm to students who are not of the persuasion of the volunteer chaplain. And volunteer chaplains don't have to have any training in human development and child development,” said Meyer.

John Labriola with the Christian Family Coalition, spoke in favor of the bill before the vote.

“Sometimes a child does need a spiritual counselor where they wouldn’t feel comfortable going to a regular guidance counselor,” said Labriola.

A parent would have to give written consent before their child could receive counseling from a chaplain.

The bill was approved in the Florida House, and now moves to a vote by the Florida Senate.

The American School Counselor Association recommends one counselor per 250 students. In Florida, it's one counselor to 436 children.

Read the full bill below.

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Danielle Prieur