Fla. House committee approves $2 million for Jewish day school security

The Florida House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee this morning unanimously approved an allocation of $2 million to fund security at Jewish day schools.

Last year, legislators approved $654,491 in funding for Jewish day schools in Florida after a rash of anti-Semitic threats throughout the country. The concept has since received public backing from Gov. Rick Scott, who requested $1 million.

“Sadly, there has been a rise of anti-Semitic viewpoints,” Rep. Jason Fischer, R-Jacksonville and a co-sponsor of HB 2791, told RedefinED. “There have been bomb threats. There have been spray-painted swastikas and other threatening things toward them, and we have to stand up and fight for the people in our community.”

The allocation would fund the hardening of building and equipment upgrades, fences, video access, ballistic glass, alarms and communication systems at 46 Jewish day schools around the state.

“I am proud to stand for these kids as I am saddened that a bill like this is needed,” Fischer said.

Rep. Wengay ‘Newt’ Newton, D-St. Petersburg, asked if the funding would be reoccurring.

“Assessments will be made as we go along,” Fischer said. “It will be a year-to-year process.”

Several parents last year expressed concern to the Hebrew Academy of Tampa Bay. They worried they could be targeted because they are Jewish.

The Anti-Defamation League reported in its latest audit of anti-Semitic incidents that there are serious concerns at public, private, parochial grade schools and college campuses about a rise in such incidents.

Indeed, there were 269 anti-Semitic incidents at educational institutions in 2017, more than double the number in 2016, according to the ADL. Overall, the organization reports there were 1,299 anti-Semitic incidents in the United States last year.

General, National Education Legislation & Policy