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Miami-Dade School Board Chair Proposes Deadline For Suing Over House Bill 7069

The chair of Miami-Dade County’s school board wants to set a deadline for the district to decide whether to join a  legal challenge against a controversial new charter school law.

The board initially voted to first “exhaust” negotiations with lawmakers for legislative fixes to House Bill 7069 before going to court. But chair Lawrence Feldman has a new plan to give those talks a mid-January expiration date.

Several members went to Tallahassee last month to discuss their concerns about the new law and left feeling “heartened,” Lawrence wrote in the proposal. Their efforts should be “commended,” he said. But he feels an urgency to take action because the law’s “most onerous financial implications” for the district take effect in early February.

Therefore, “If no immediate legislative intervention” takes place, the district would join Broward County and a dozen other Florida schools districts in a lawsuit they filed in October by no later than Jan. 16, according to Feldman’s proposal.

Members will discuss his plan during a committee meeting on Wednesday and vote on it during a full board meeting next week.

Lawmakers have begun holding committee meetings ahead of the 2018 legislative session, which starts in January. Unless they call a special session — which is highly unlikely — they would not be able to make any changes to the law until next year. The legislation was a chief 2017 priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has denounced districts’ attempts to dismantle it.

Districts argue the law is unconstitutional, in part because it strips elected school board members of some of their power for overseeing privately run charter schools. They also oppose an aspect of the bill that allows charter schools access to local property tax funding for construction.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Jessica Bakeman reports on K-12 and higher education for WLRN, south Florida's NPR affiliate. While new to Miami and public radio, Jessica is a seasoned journalist who has covered education policymaking and politics in three state capitals: Jackson, Miss.; Albany, N.Y.; and, most recently, Tallahassee.
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