Florida third-grade retention case returns to state court today
A challenge to Florida's social promotion laws heads back to state court today for an evidentiary hearing, as parents seek quick action to prevent their children from having to repeat third grade.
You can watch the proceedings live on The Florida Channel, beginning at 10:30 a.m.
Leading to the hearing, the Pasco County school district has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, which has been filed against it, five other districts and the state Department of Education.
Pasco's lawyers contend that the facts relating to the one student from its jurisdiction are not like the others. Specifically, while the other families argue that their children were held back because they did not take the Florida Standards Assessment in reading, the Pasco child took the test and scored at the lowest Level 1.
The district asserts that the family did receive several notifications through the year that their child had a reading deficiency. And then the family rejected opportunities to take an alternative test or complete a portfolio of work beyond what she had done in the classroom, which had been below grade level expectations.
Beyond that, the lawyers stated, the family has since withdrawn their child from the school system.
"This has effectively rendered the Plaintiff Hastings' claim against Pasco moot," the motion states.
In emails to the district, the Hastings have argued that their child had C grades on her report cards, and that should be acceptable as proof of ability. District officials have told the Gradebook that report cards generally indicate how a child has performed on the materials given to him or her, and not necessarily how they're doing compared to state standards.
In a first hearing on this case, state lawyers suggested that report cards are meaningless, irking many parents who then inundated superintendents to ask their views on the reports that go home to parents. No word on if anyone responded.
When the case resumes today, the plaintiffs will continue to argue that they should not need a state test score in order to qualify for promotion to fourth grade -- particularly when they otherwise demonstrate their abilities. Districts around the state have differed in their interpretation of the laws and rules governing this issue.
In the meantime, all Florida public school students will have returned to classes as of this morning. Stay tuned.