Published: Apr 01, 2013 6:42 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A Florida Senate panel has approved a contentious bill aimed at giving parents a stronger voice in charting a turnaround for failing public schools.
    
The so-called "parent trigger" measure cleared the Senate Education Committee on a 6-3 vote Monday, with all three dissenting votes coming from Democrats.
    
The bill (SB 862) drew lengthy public testimony that divided parents and local school board members.
    
Supporters said the bill would empower parents by giving them a role in deciding a failing school's future course. Options include reassigning students to other schools or handing the school over to a private company to run as a charter school.
    
Opponents said the bill is meant to empower charter schools, not parents.
    
The bill has a couple of other committee stops before reaching the full Senate.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)