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Duval School Board votes to join lawsuit against education bill… But the $$ follow the students

August 29, 2017 in Hot Business Tips, In the news, Members Only by admin


Duval School Board votes to join lawsuit against education bill

Duval joins 10 other school district in charter, funding fight

Duval school board members voted 4-2 Monday morning to join 10 other districts suing the state over the major education law passed by the Florida Legislature last spring.

The law went into effect July 1.

Voting to join the lawsuit were Board Chairwoman Paula Wright, members Lori Hershey, Becki Couch, and Warren Jones. Ashley Smith Juarez and Scott Shine voted against the measure. Cheryl Grymes was absent.

At least 10 districts so far have agreed to challenge the constitutionality of the law in a joint lawsuit, including Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach and Broward counties. So far, the districts have each contributed $10,000 to $30,000 to the effort, depending on enrollment size, but the preliminary budget is expected to total $400,000.

The special meeting was scheduled for a half hour, but discussion went on for about two hours.

The decision authorizes the district’s General Counsel to pursue litigation against the state for House Bill 7069, a bill the board believes will negatively impact its ability to carry its responsibilities.

“This is not about taking choices away from kids,” Couch said. “This is not about disliking charter schools. We also have people who pay taxes, and those people trust us to make decisions to their benefit.”

Prior to the Monday board meeting, Duval County had three options: to join the lawsuit, decline litigation or to postpone.

Smith Juarez said she felt Board members had not exhausted all other methods available to them, including continuing negotiations.

Other Board members felt the time to act is now. After a certain time, Duval County would no longer have the option to join.

The biggest legal target is the new law’s so-called “schools of hope” measure, which sets aside more than $100 million to create charter schools in areas near D- or F-rated public schools. Some of those schools will be forced to close by other sections of state law.

Opponents of the law removes most of what little oversight school districts have over charter schools, which are privately run public schools. Duval County has 31 charter schools.

The schools of hope provision would divert local tax revenues districts receive for school capital improvements to charter schools. Duval officials estimate they’ll lose at least $16 million in school improvement dollars over five years.

The law also absolves schools of hope from some local laws and allows the schools to employ uncertified teachers. It also appears some charter schools will be given a status similar to school districts and take more Title 1 federal money for poor schools, according to the analysis.

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