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Don’t hear HB 7069 lawsuit, state lawyers tell Florida Supreme Court

Department of Education attorneys say the lower courts ruled properly in tossing the case.
The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee.
The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]
Published Nov. 20, 2019|Updated Nov. 21, 2019

After having lost the appeal of their challenge to several aspects of HB 7069, nine Florida school districts took their case to the state Supreme Court for another review.

Lawyers representing the Department of Education are asking the high court to not consider the matter.

In a brief filed this week, the state’s legal team argued that the districts offered no real subject for reconsideration.

“Nowhere have Petitioners pointed to any language—much less a holding—from any case of this Court or any district court that evinces even a slight conflict. The issues in this case have been, and will continue to be, the subject of well-reasoned decisions of Florida’s district courts of appeal,” the attorneys wrote. “What Petitioners seek is an improper advisory opinion that the First District’s decision (and the precedent on which it relied) was wrongly decided.”

Lawyers for a group of charter schools and parents also fighting the suit filed a similar brief.

“A long line of cases, including from this Court, have made clear the interplay of authority between the State and local school boards. Namely, the State may regulate local school boards and make provision through law for Florida’s public school students, including public charter school students,” they wrote. “The First District merely applied this prior precedent.”

At issue is whether the controversial 2017 law went too far in creating a new class of charter schools outside the discretion of school boards, and also directing school districts to send some local tax revenue to charter schools.

District lawyers argued that these and related provisions went outside the constitutional powers set for school board oversight of the schools within their political boundaries. A Leon County judge disagreed, and the case has been on appeal ever since.

The petitioners have requested an oral argument before the court. That decision should come after the court determines whether it will hear the case at all.


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