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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Court orders hearing on testing exemption for Sarasota girl with disabilities, despite settlement



The case of Maddie Drew, a Sarasota teen with multiple disabilities, has drawn attention across Florida as the girl's mother attempted to win her daughter an exemption from state-mandated testing.

Denied the exemption by education commissioner Pam Stewart, Mrs. Drew turned to the courts for relief. The Department of Education later relented.

Here's the strange twist. The First District Court of Appeal declined to release the case, at Drew's request, after the settlement. The issue, the court stated in a Nov. 2 ruling, was too important to go without formal review:

"During the pendency of this matter, the Department agreed to grant a permanent exemption to Drew's daughter based on her medical complexity, and Drew has asked that this case be closed. Because the issue presented is one of importance and for which a published decision would be helpful, we decline to do so."

Rather, the court ordered the DOE to conduct the reviews required under statute, which it stated the family is entitled to.

Andrea Mogenson, Drew's lawyer, said that the family had hoped their case would provide precedent, and the court essentially granted one. A department spokeswoman said the DOE does not comment on ongoing litigation.

Read the court order here.

[Last modified: Thursday, November 3, 2016 6:14am]


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