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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida teachers, state continue battle over SB 736



It's been three years since Gov. Rick Scott signed SB 736 into law, changing the way that Florida teachers are hired, evaluated and paid.

School districts have implemented new evaluation systems and created new pay scales, the state has begun issuing "value-added" scores and creating exams to base the results upon.

Still, questions of whether SB 736 is constitutional remain in play, as the teachers have used the courts to fight for their rights in the absence of finding support for their position in the Legislature.

This morning, lawyers for the Department of Education and the Florida Education Association head to court in Tallahassee to argue the legal points of the teachers' appeal of an initial ruling against their complaint. The teachers have argued that SB 736 violated their constitutional rights to collective bargaining, by legislating many contract terms that they contended should be left to negotiations.

In their appeal, the teachers contended that the trial court misinterpreted statute relating to separation of powers and the setting of student growth scores. The state disagreed in its response:

"Appellants’ Initial Brief sets out some basic policy guidelines the Florida Legislature should have addressed for the State Board to follow in implementing Subsection 1012.34(8), Florida Statutes. (Initial Brief 13) (e.g., whether trigger scores should be relative or absolute, considerations in setting relative or absolute levels, whether to set target percentages for any performance level). In the absence of any such guidelines, the statute leaves to the State Board the full responsibility of both determining the guidelines to use, and then implementing them."

Oral arguments are set for today. A hearing on a second lawsuit challenging SB 736 provisions has been scheduled for Monday, but has been rescheduled for April 9. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 9:09am]


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