Florida charter schools win in court

A court ruling this week could lift a cloud over key portions of House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s initiative to lure more nationally recognized charter school operators to Florida.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper upheld all the parts of last year’s House bill 7069 that 13 school districts had tried to challenge in court.

Among other things, that means charter schools will keep the power to form their own local education agencies and receive federal funding directly. Designated “Schools of Hope” will be able to open with a streamlined application process, and the Legislature will keep its authority to require school districts to share local property tax funding with charter schools.Lisa Burdue Tackett, whose son, Jake, attends Hope Charter School in Orange County, praised the ruling in a statement distributed by the National Alliance for Public Charter schools.

“We should be celebrating and supporting schools — whether they are a district school or a charter school — that give students like Jake a chance to succeed,” she said.

The ruling is not yet final, however. Cooper is expected to put his verbal ruling into written form in the coming days. The school districts behind the case are already discussing a possible appeal, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

In a statement, Corcoran called the ruling a win “for all parents, all students and all teachers.” And he hoped there wouldn’t be an appeal.

“It is our hope that school districts will drop these wasteful, foolish challenges and work with us to implement transformational policies,” he said.

Indeed, a new law, coupled with the budget signed by Gov. Rick Scott, could change the politics of charter school funding in Florida.

A separate lawsuit by the Palm Beach County School Board deals only with that issue. It is still pending before a different Leon County judge.

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