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Judge Rules On Side Of Families in Florida Opt Out Case

Aug 26, 2016

A judge is siding with families who are fighting a Florida law that ties students' promotion to fourth grade on how they perform on standardized reading tests.

At the instruction of their parents, students wrote their names on the tests and then didn't answer questions.

A Leon County circuit court judge ruled Friday that school districts must consider other options other than student performance on the Florida Standards Assessment tests, including classroom grades and assessments from teachers.

In her order, Circuit Judge Karen Gievers wrote that “the statute does not define participation."

She also chastised the state Department of Education and six counties named in the suit for failing to promote students.

In her 52-page order, the judge cited the Hernando County School District as adversely affecting children writing that “the evidence clearly demonstrates the board’s illegal refusal to provide any portfolio option.”

She ordered the district to immediately provide the portfolio option to retained third graders, although they still must demonstrate their readiness for the fourth grade.

Gievers was especially critical of the Orange County School Board, which she said acted in “a particularly blatant, arbitrary and capricious “manner to a third grader in Maitland.

The case involved fourteen plantiffs in six Florida counties.