Polk County Public Schools Back to School Guide graphic with photos of students working on robotics and music

Photo of Superintendent Fred HeidDear PCPS parents and guardians,

Welcome to the 2023-24 school year!

I hope this message finds you in good health and happy spirits as we prepare for a new academic year filled with endless possibilities.

The first day of school for students will be Friday, Aug. 11.

We’ve spent the summer months getting ready for your children to return to a learning environment that is safe and nurturing.

Many of you have been eagerly awaiting the first day of school, and we share in your excitement. Our teachers and school staff have been working to ensure that your children receive the very best education and support help them grow into confident, well-rounded, and successful individuals.

As we start this new journey together, please know that we are counting on your partnership and collaboration more than ever. Your involvement is critical to shaping your child’s academic path and social development. We encourage you to take an active role in their education by attending parent-teacher conferences, volunteering, and engaging in regular communication with your child’s teachers and counselors.

Our schools have exciting activities and programs taking place throughout the year. These opportunities will enrich your child’s school experience and help them develop vital skills that they’ll need throughout life. We’re confident that with your support and encouragement, we can bring out the very best in your child.

Working together, we can seize upon every chance to foster a passion for lifelong learning in our community’s youth.

Below are some important back-to-school updates that will help ease everyone into the new school year.

Fred Heid
Polk County Public Schools

Parental Authorization for Deviation from Student’s Legal Name

On July 19, 2023, the Florida State Board of Education modified Rule 6A-1.0955 Education Records to include a section requiring written parental consent for the use of student names other than their legal names.

Rule 6A-1.0955 covers various aspects of maintaining student records in a way that seeks to protect the rights of students and parents. The following section outlines the revised language:

“Each school board must adopt a policy for educational records which must include…. provisions for parents to specify the use of any deviation from their child’s legal name in school. School districts will develop a form to obtain parental consent along with any required documentation, as appropriate.” Rule 6A- 1.0955(8)(m), F.A.C.

What this new rule means is that any deviation from a child’s legal name will require written parental consent. To be clear, this does mean that a parent or guardian must provide written consent for nicknames and shortened names.

This new rule goes into effect on Aug. 22, 2023.

Polk County Public Schools is providing you with a form that you must submit to your child’s school if you are allowing your child to use a name other than their legal name. We will accept forms through Oct. 31, 2023.

Download the Parental Authorization Form (English, Spanish and Haitian Creole versions are included.)

New students will have 15 days from the date of their enrollment to submit the form.

This form will be included in the back-to-school packet each year beginning with the 2024-25 school year.