Leon County judge issues formal order in HB 7069 case

Judge John Cooper announced his position two weeks earlier.
Leon County Judge John Cooper is assigned the case in which several school districts are challenging HB 7069.
Leon County Judge John Cooper is assigned the case in which several school districts are challenging HB 7069.
Published April 20, 2018|Updated April 20, 2018

Leon County Judge John Cooper has boiled his order against 13 Florida school districts' lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of HB 7069 down to writing.

As announced two weeks ago, Cooper found against the districts' arguments that the Legislature had violated their constitutional rights with the establishment of a new charter school model and a tax-based funding system for charter school construction projects.

Related: Leon County judge rules against school districts' challenge of HB 7069 

While the districts had standing to bring their case — contrary to the defendants' contention — they did not have the law on their side in deeming the 2017 measure unconstitutional, Cooper wrote.

Regarding the tax question, in which districts contended the state usurped school board control of local tax use, Cooper had this to say:

"This requirement is no more intrusive than the presumptively constitutional requirements imposed on local school districts by the FEFP and many other statutory requirements that the Local Boards have not challenged in this litigation."

He also found against the districts' Schools of Hope challenge.

"The fact that the State Board of Education may contract with a hope operator if a local school board refuses to do so as required by law does not mean that HB 7069 'eliminat[es] any role for local district school boards,'" Cooper wrote. "As long as the Local Boards either prevent their local schools from remaining in a persistently low-performing state under 1002.333(1)(b), Fla. Stat., or fulfill their statutory obligation to enter into performance-based agreements and supervise any schools themselves under 1002.333(4)(b), there will be no occasion for the State Board to contract with hope operators directly."

Cooper deemed the boards' argument that Schools of Hope violate the constitution's uniformity requirement "similarly unpersuasive." He continued to knock down each of the districts' positions on the six points of their complaint.

Read the complete ruling here.