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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Lawsuit over class size fines not a certainty, lawyer Meyer says



The papers are ready. The more than 30 Florida school districts that face fines for failing to comply with the 2002 class size amendment are prepared to sue the state over the penalties as soon as they are actually imposed, lawyer Ron Meyer says.

But "we are cautiously optimistic that that's not going to happen," Meyer told the Gradebook.

He noted that there's a mounting whisper campaign in Tallahassee -- nothing formal or official yet -- that many lawmakers are willing to revisit the penalty of about $3,000 per student over the cap, now that the threat of fines failed to convince voters to ease the rules.

What's more, Meyer added, it's unclear exactly what would happen with the collected fines. The Department of Education had announced rule making for the reallocation of funds, but that effort has been frozen by new Gov. Rick Scott's first executive order. So now there's a question of whether the state can move ahead on the fines without any guidance in place.

Even so, the State Board of Education stands ready to consider (and likely approve) the penalties calculated and recommended by commissioner Eric J. Smith when it meets next week. Its decision would then go to the Legislative Joint Budget Commission in February for adoption before any fines might be considered official.

Meyer said it would be February at the earliest, "if at all," that districts would file their lawsuit. "I am hopeful it never sees the light of day." 

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 6:43pm]


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