PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) - Florida is the first state now to offer bullied students vouchers to attend private schools.
Governor Rick Scott signed a sweeping education bill that, among other things, creates a new voucher program for victims of bullying, harassment and other types of violence.
"It's really not dealing with the problem which is the bullies themselves who are still in the schools," said Dianne Krumel, president of the Escambia County Democratic Women's Club.
Krumel thinks it's a waste of taxpayer money and more of a bandaid instead of a solution to the problem that affects an estimated 50,000 students in the state.
"They could implement and use this money by providing more counselors at the schools and more resources to talk to children and have programs and intervention," Krumel said.
Norm Ross, the deputy superintendent of the Escambia County School District, said students can report to teachers and staff and file a report online. They also have an entire department devoted to bullying prevention.
"It's unfortunate we're having this conversation but certainly the mechanism we have as a school district in place is working," Ross said. "We address those as expeditiously as possible."
Supporters of the proposal said the program is the next step for a choice-friendly state to continue to provide more options for students.
On Facebook, many people sounded off including Scarlett Harrison who said, "There is bullying in ALL schools!!! It doesn’t matter if it’s private or public!!!"
"Why don't they start prosecuting the bullies and getting them out of the school system instead of segregating the ones bullied from their friends," Tony Reeder said on Facebook.
The new voucher program is estimated to cost about $41 million and could provide almost 6,000 students with vouchers to go to new schools.