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A School Board Will Sue the State Over Charter-Tilted Education Bill Most Districts Opposed

| July 6, 2017

It's complicated. (Lauren Manning)

It’s complicated. (Lauren Manning)

The Broward County School Board voted Wednesday to move ahead with legal action against a sweeping new education law, an initial step toward a court clash over one of the legislative session’s most controversial bills.

During a special meeting called to discuss the potential lawsuit, board members voted unanimously to allow the district to hire an outside lawyer to help handle the case. Broward County expects to be followed by other districts — including Miami-Dade County — in mounting a challenge to the law.

The legislation (HB 7069), signed by Gov. Rick Scott last month, would overhaul a vast swath of state education law. It deals with everything from mandatory recess for elementary school students and standardized testing to charter school funding and teacher bonuses.

In a memo given to the Broward County board ahead of the meeting, the board’s general counsel outlined five grounds to challenge the 278-page, $419 million measure. The grounds include an argument that the massive legislation violates the Florida Constitution’s requirement that each bill deal with a single subject.

But it also launches broadsides against some aspects of the legislation that are friendly to charter schools. The new law makes it easier for charter schools to open near academically struggling traditional public schools, something the Broward County board says infringes on its authority over schools.

The law, championed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, also requires school districts to share with charter schools construction funds raised by local property taxes, something that could weaken the districts’ credit outlook.

“This is strong-arm robbery,” Broward County board member Rosalind Osgood said during Wednesday’s meeting. “And the weapon is this policy, this legislation. And so we have to stand up and do something about it. We can’t just allow our community, and I’ll say it in this way, to be jacked like this.”

Other members also indicated that longstanding frustration with the Legislature over issues ranging from unfunded mandates to inadequate spending on public schools helped prompt the decision.

“This is the opportunity for us to start chiseling away at state legislators who don’t put the voter and the children in this state first. … I feel it’s really our time to step up to the bat and say, ‘enough is enough,’ ” said Ann Murray, another board member.

The board’s general counsel, Barbara Myrick, didn’t give a specific timeframe for filing the lawsuit. But Myrick said districts hope to move quickly to block the law from fully taking effect and to meet a six-month deadline for filing a challenge under the single-subject clause.

Emerging in the final days of the legislative session, HB 7069 came in for withering criticism because of behind-the-scenes dealing and the bill’s size. Parents and educators from across the spectrum called for the measure to be vetoed, but Scott signed it after lawmakers met in special session and approved his request for additional funding for public education, tourism marketing and economic development.

Supporters say the bill includes several popular provisions and gives additional education options to students in public schools that have repeatedly failed.

Corcoran issued a statement late Wednesday lambasting the board over the proposed lawsuit.

“This is another example of the educational bureaucracy putting the adults who administer the schools ahead of the children who attend the schools,” he said. “Not only is it clueless, it is also arguably heartless, to sue to stop school children from getting recess, disabled children from getting funding, poor children from getting out of failure factories and teachers from getting more pay.”

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

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7 Responses for “A School Board Will Sue the State Over Charter-Tilted Education Bill Most Districts Opposed”

  1. Merrill Shapiro says:

    How can we help get our Flagler County School Board to join in this lawsuit? We, the taxpayers, are being ripped off by being required to pay for Charter Schools that perform no better than our public schools. We need to reduce government, reduce our bloated bureaucracy and follow our Florida Constitution (Article IX, Section 1) that requires just one “uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high-quality system of free public schools.”

  2. a tiny manatee says:

    Well, the people of Flagler county elected a plagiarist with a dubious degree from a for-profit degree mill to the school board so I’d say maybe cut and paste someone else’s plea for educational help and then maybe attach a PhD to the end of your name and you’ll get their attention for sure.

  3. Taxpayer says:

    @ tinymanatee, just to set the record straight, there are 2 plagiarists on the schhol board, 1 was just writtn more about than the other, disappointing to say the least!

  4. Carol Ogden says:

    Bottom line, local tax dollars are going to corporate profits often out of state. These corporations have no enforceable obligation to educate a single child. So many don’t. They take the startup money and then close the school. Anybody who has a child, knows a child, loves a child (or loves education) should be outraged. This is way beyond the shortcomings of any local school board member. We need to send a message to our local legislators and the Governor.

  5. Sherry says:

    This is yet another example of “misplaced” and “naive” belief that the :”competition” of “Capitalism” is the best method/process/solution for absolutely EVERYTHING. The huge MISTAKE in this belief is NOT calculating in the GREED MOTIVE!

    Turning over the complete control of VITAL services to “private” entities whose central agenda is ALWAYS “Maximizing Profits” is nothing short of sheer lunacy!.

    The political “long” game here is to create an “under educated” populace. . . which is easily manipulated. . . for current and future “totalitarian” regimes.

    Turning over our “public” education systems to “private for profit” companies is an attempt to “kill 2 birds with 1 stone”. Lining the pockets of legislators (VIA lobbying bribes), while controlling the masses!

  6. Will says:

    If you want support for public education, stop electing Republicans! They just want to enrich their wealthy corporate backers. Private, for profit, corporations should not be receiving our tax dollars.

  7. Jim Humphreys says:

    The bottom line here is that something needs to be done and doing nothing is not the answer. These failure factories are just that. Have any of you been out of the state of Fl.? If so, have you talked with children educated in Northern states? I’m 46 and moved here 3 yrs. ago from the NJ Shore, where I was afforded an excellent education in a public school system. My parents stood behind me and pushed me to excel and do my best. In the short 3 years I have lived here, I cannot believe the stupidity of the generation of kids coming into and workforce in this state. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Teachers, Parents, Politicians;… You are the ones who have failed these children and left them anything but ill prepared for life. Stop worrying about your salaries and the political agendas you push down these kids throats and give then an education. Stop with the excuses and put the blame where its due. In your mirrors. These children will someday be running your local, county, and state governments and I hope they give you back what you have given them. NOTHING !!!

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