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Education System Challenge Put On Hold By Florida Supreme Court

Jan 30, 2018
Originally published on January 29, 2018 5:46 pm

The Florida Supreme Court has put on hold a long-running lawsuit alleging that the state has failed to meet its constitutional duty of providing a high-quality system of public schools.

Plaintiffs, led by a group called Citizens for Strong Schools, took the case to the Supreme Court this month after the 1st District Court of Appeal rejected their arguments.

But the Supreme Court on Friday issued an order placing a stay on the case until 15 days after the end of the ongoing legislative session.

Attorneys for the House and Senate filed a document on January 12 citing a state law that requires continuances when members of the Legislature are involved in cases. The Senate president and House speaker are among the defendants in the education case.

“Here, of course, the Senate president and House speaker are members of the Florida Legislature, and the statute provides that the continuance should automatically commence upon filing this notice with the (Supreme) Court,” the House and Senate attorneys wrote.

The legislative session is scheduled to end March 9.

The lawsuit is rooted in a 1998 constitutional amendment that says it is a "paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders." The amendment fleshed that out, in part, by saying adequate provision will be made for a "uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system" of public schools.

Citizens for Strong Schools and other plaintiffs contend the state has not met the constitutional requirements, but a Leon County circuit judge and the appeals court have ruled for the state in the case.

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