By Brandon Larrabee
News Service of Florida
A Tallahassee-based appeals court wrestled Tuesday with what standard should be applied to Florida’s education system, with judges sounding skeptical that courts were even a proper place to hear the issue.
At least two members of a three-judge panel from the 1st District Court of Appeal directed sharp questions at Jodi Siegel, an attorney for a coalition of advocates and parents who sued the state eight years ago for allegedly failing to provide a quality education system.
While the judges questioned both sides, even Siegel conceded afterward that they seemed skeptical about courts’ ability to referee the fight.
“They did, and we hope we made our argument,” she said.
The central issue in the appeal is whether courts can evaluate the state’s obligation under a 1998 constitutional amendment that declares 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.
But Leon County Circuit Judge George Reynolds ruled last year that the judiciary should be hesitant to wade too deeply into the issue and give deference to the Legislature under the separation of powers. The judges at Tuesday’s hearing seemed more likely than not to agree. Continue Reading →