Ready to defend
They're still reviewing all their legal arguments. But lawyers for the State Board of Education are gearing up to fight the school districts that claim the state has no right to override local control of charter schools.
At issue is the State Board's denial of 38 school districts' request for exclusive authority to grant or deny charters within their boundaries. Twenty districts have filed notices that they will appeal the denials, including Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas and Hernando, which now has asked the court of appeals to pass the case directly to the Florida Supreme Court for review of the underlying constitutional question.
The districts contend that the law allowing for an outside agency - the Florida Schools of Excellence Commission - to approve or reject charters violates Article IX, Section 4 of the state constitution, which states local school districts "operate, control and supervise all free public schools within the school district."
Debby Kearney, the State Board's general counsel, tells the Gradebook that she and other lawyers have started working on their strategy. The department is getting some assistance, she adds: "We have contracted with the Attorney General's Office. They are representing us."