By Brandon Larrabee
News Service of Florida
The Broward County School Board voted Wednesday to move ahead with legal action against a sweeping new education law, an initial step toward a court clash over one of the legislative session’s most controversial bills.
During a special meeting called to discuss the potential lawsuit, board members voted unanimously to allow the district to hire an outside lawyer to help handle the case. Broward County expects to be followed by other districts — including Miami-Dade County — in mounting a challenge to the law.
The legislation (HB 7069), signed by Gov. Rick Scott last month, would overhaul a vast swath of state education law. It deals with everything from mandatory recess for elementary school students and standardized testing to charter school funding and teacher bonuses.
In a memo given to the Broward County board ahead of the meeting, the board’s general counsel outlined five grounds to challenge the 278-page, $419 million measure. The grounds include an argument that the massive legislation violates the Florida Constitution’s requirement that each bill deal with a single subject.
But it also launches broadsides against some aspects of the legislation that are friendly to charter schools. The new law makes it easier for charter schools to open near academically struggling traditional public schools, something the Broward County board says infringes on its authority over schools.
The law, championed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, also requires school districts to share with charter schools construction funds raised by local property taxes, something that could weaken the districts’ credit outlook.