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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Joining forces in charter dispute



Twenty cases challenging the state's right to deny school districts exclusive authority over charter schools soon could become one.

Lawyers for both the Department of Education and the 20 districts challenging the department's action denying their charter school powers have agreed to consolidate the several court appeals into a single case in the 1st District Court of Appeal.

"It's an effort to conserve judicial time," not to mention the time and money of the several school districts that all are fighting the same fight, said Ron Meyer, the high-powered lawyer who is working the matter for the Florida School Boards Association. "The parties are agreeing that it ought to be done. The court gets to decide."

Meyer expected the court to rule on the proposal in January.

At issue is the constitutionality of the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission, which the Legislature created in 2006 as an alternate route for charter schools to follow instead of applying to school districts for permission to open. The districts contend that Article IX, Section 4 of the Constitution does not allow for anyone other than the school boards to "operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district."

Until the issue is resolved in court, the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission cannot approve charter schools to operate in the counties that have challenged the state action. The counties are: Hillsborough, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Bay, Duval, Escambia, Charlotte, Collier, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Broward, Martin, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Lake, Osceola, St. Johns, Sumter and Volusia.

For more on the issue, click here.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:30am]


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