A lawsuit that claims the Florida Legislature has failed to adequately educate the state’s children is going to the Florida Supreme Court. State leaders appealed for a halt to the proceedings after a trial judge rejected their request to dismiss the case, but an appellate court voted 8 – 7 this week to allow the lawsuit to proceed.
The lawsuit was filed two years ago by half a dozen students and parents. They were joined in the suit by Fund Education Now, a nonprofit focused on education reform in Florida, and Citizens for Strong Schools, a nonprofit based in Alachua County.
The plaintiffs say the state is “breaching its constitutional paramount duty to provide a high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education.” They claim the defendants “have failed to fulfill their constitutional duties.”
The suit alleges that the state has shifted responsibility for education funding to local governments in violation of the Constitution. It also claims a continued lack of security in schools, and criticizes the state’s use of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).
Since the suit was filed in November 2009, there have been some improvements. Florida’s education system climbed to fifth in the nation, according to the latest Quality Counts report from Education Week. Foundation for Florida’s Future, chaired by former Gov. Jeb Bush, touts laws signed by Gov. Rick Scott this year to expand opportunities for a quality education.
Among other things, the suit seeks a court order forcing the state to craft an education plan that conforms with the Constitution’s requirements. No date has been set for the Florida Supreme Court to hear the case.