State school districts filing lawsuits against charter school legislation

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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
October 4, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Lawsuits filed by Florida school districts trying to derail new charter school legislation may be at risk.

The Constitutional Revision Commission is likely to propose an amendment to invalidate any current and future legal challenges by school districts.

HB 7069 was passed by the legislature in June, packed with provisions opposed by many public education advocates.

At the top of the list is a requirement that school districts share local tax revenue with privately owned charter schools.

"That's an issue that local school board members believe is their authority to decide," said Andrew Messina with the Florida School Boards Association.

Palm Beach county is the first to file suit against the State Board of Education and the Department of Education.

Districts argue the law unconstitutionally takes away local district's ability to dictate how to spend tax dollars.

But The law suit could be in jeopardy. The Constitutional Revision Commission is expected to propose an amendment to the constitution, giving charters the same rights as other public schools.

The CRC has multiple people who make their money from charter schools and lawmakers who voted for the controversial legislation.

At the commission meeting Monday, CRC Commissioner and CEO of the Foundation for Excellence in Education Patricia Levesque was asked if she thought pro-charter amendments would be on the table.

"I think what's really important is that we ensure that the constitution represents all students," she said.

CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff says its too soon to speculate what the 37-member commission will do.

"We'll see in a couple of months what filters through the process and the committee process," he explained.

If the CRC puts an amendment on the ballot to combat lawsuits from school districts, it would have to be approved by six out of ten voters to become law.

At least 14 other school boards have signed on to a pending lawsuit against HB 7069.

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