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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Is lawsuit looming over Florida's "teacher quality" bill?



88929.meyer_2.jpgAs soon as the Florida House approved Senate Bill 736 to overhaul public school teachers' contracts, evaluations and pay, talk began of the Florida Education Association (or some other interested party) launching a lawsuit to stop it upon Gov. Rick Scott's signature.

It's not likely to happen that quickly.

"If the governor signs it today, I'm not going to hand him a lawsuit tomorrow," FEA lawyer Ron Meyer, the most likely author of a suit, told the Gradebook. "We'd rather get it right than get it fast."

In other words, Meyer is poring over the bill's 43 pages to see what provisions if any might violate Florida's constitution on its face, meriting a constitutional challenge, and what provisions might be subject to a challenge after a school district tries to apply them. For instance, the bill would eliminate seniority in determining layoffs, but that could only occur as existing contracts expire, as new law cannot impair contracted rights, he explained.

If a district were to try to impose that section early, it could be open to a lawsuit at that point, but not before.

Meyer said he had several "constitutional reservations" about the bill, but added that he had not yet determined which issues might rise to the level of litigation. He promised to let us know if and when any legal action occurs.

(2008 photo of Meyer, center, with his FEA clients)

[Last modified: Friday, March 18, 2011 9:57am]


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