Will Florida lawmakers punish school board members for challenging HB 7069?
Shortly after the Broward County School Board voted Wednesday to sue the Florida Legislature over its controversial education bill, speculation quickly turned to which other boards might join the cause.
Many seemed to be waiting to see if anyone would jump first before committing, Florida School Boards Association executive director Andrea Messina said. They're likely to start the conversations now, Messina suggested.
But she added a caveat: If lawmakers seek retribution against the boards that get involved — and let's not forget committees resume their work in September — others might shy away.
No one has issued any threat. But if history serves as a guide, that direction is not out of the question. Consider:
- In 2016, the Legislature worked to prevent the Florida School Boards Association from using public dollars to sue the state. It considered dues from school boards to be public dollars. The impetus: The FSBA had joined a lawsuit challenging the state's tax credit scholarship program.
- In 2011, the Legislature considered a bill to eliminate school board members' pay altogether.
- In 2010, lawmakers tried to reduce school board members' pay to that of a lawmaker.
- In 2009, some lawmakers proposed allowing school board members to voluntarily cut their pay. Who could say no, right? That move came a year after the state resumed setting board member salaries, a responsibility it had given to the boards in 2002.
State leaders justified their moves each time largely as budgetary needs. But the efforts came after school boards publicly disputed the Legislature's education policy or funding decisions.
Will it happen this year? Again, not a single person has hinted at any such move. People with long memories recalled the past actions, though, and are at least watching for any reaction.