© 2022 All Rights reserved WUSF
News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Politics / Issues
Get the latest coverage of the 2022 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Two Tampa Bay lawmakers introduce a bill that would protect students' mental health

Susan Valdes speaking into a microphone
Florida House of Representatives
/
Bill sponsor Susan Valdes, a Tampa Democrat and former Hillsborough County School Board member, said the measure places an emphasis on students’ mental health.

The proposal by Reps. Susan Valdes and Traci Koster would permit “licensed professional as determined by school board policy” to write notes that would excuse absences, and not just physicians.

State House members on Monday advanced a bill that would allow professionals such as therapists and psychologists to authorize excused absences for students.

The House Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee unanimously approved the measure (HB 289).

Only physicians currently are allowed to write notes attesting to illnesses or conditions that would excuse students’ absences.

The House proposal would permit any “other licensed professional as determined by school board policy” to write such notes on behalf of students.

Bill sponsor Susan Valdes, a Tampa Democrat and former Hillsborough County School Board member, said the measure places an emphasis on students’ mental health.

“This bill will allow for school boards to update their policies to reflect the needs of their community by allowing and recognizing professionals such as mental health therapists, clinical social workers and psychologists,” Valdes said.

Rep. Traci Koster, R-Tampa, said the proposed changes would work toward “changing the narrative” surrounding mental health.

“I think this is a great step in that direction to recognize that … a child’s mental health or mental wellness is just as important as their physical health,” Koster said.

The House proposal needs approval from two more panels before it could be considered by the full House. A similar Senate bill (SB 1070) has not received a committee hearing.

WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.