A lawsuit accuses the Florida Department of Education of violating public records law
The nonprofit, American Oversight, is requesting records involving communication between state and federal education officials, outside groups, and the office of Gov. DeSantis.
A nonprofit group focused on government accountability has filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Education, saying requests for public records concerning state education policies have not been released.
In its complaint, American Oversight said the agency has violated Florida law by unlawfully refusing "access to public records concerning the current administration's extensive and fast-moving changes to public education in Florida."
Tampa law firm Thomas and LoCicero filed the lawsuit Thursday in Leon County.
"The DeSantis administration’s efforts to stifle classroom discussion and rewrite history are a grave threat to the education and well-being of hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and parents in Florida,” said Heather Sawyer, American Oversight's executive director.
“Getting information to the public about exactly what's happening, who's involved and why they're doing this is really critical so that the public can take action now. It's not going to be good enough that they find out years from now when changes have taken effect and have reshaped the landscape for the kids in the schools there."
At issue in the lawsuit are eight public records requests seeking communication between the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis, state agencies and external groups about topics like critical race theory, social-emotional learning, as well as internal documents related to the decision to ban the AP African American Studies course.
The group is seeking all electronic communications, including e-mails, complete e-mail chains, text messages, and calendar invitations.
"There are a lot of kids being impacted by this and we should worry about each and every one of them,” said Sawyer. “The parents of kids whose history, whose experience in this world might now be reflected in the changes that are being made, they are entitled to have the information they need to go and advocate on behalf of their children."
Sawyer says several of the records requests were submitted more than 10 months ago.