The Florida Education Association has filed a lawsuit to prohibit Gov. DeSantis and state education officials from forcing all school districts to open brick and mortar schools this fall.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in state circuit court in Miami against Gov. DeSantis, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the Florida Board of Education and Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez.
The lawsuit contends that ordering a return to on-site instruction at public schools is a violation of Florida’s Constitution and requests a declaration that the state defendants’ actions and inactions are unconstitutional.
The suit also seeks a declaration from the court that the state's demands are "arbitrary and capricious" and seeks to prohibit the enforcement of the order.
The FEA contends the mandate does not allow districts enough time for effective planning, even when it comes to offering distance-learning options.
"As many districts were preparing to implement hybrid education models and online instruction initiatives, just weeks before the start of the school
calendar, they now find themselves forced to crowd millions of students into schools where physical distancing, although critical, becomes virtually impossible," the lawsuit reads.
The state's largest teachers union also launched a petition to Gov. Ron DeSantis that says the state's students must not return to school campuses until steps are taken to reduce the rate of community spread of COVID-19.
"The rate of infection is growing at an alarming pace, yet little is being done to slow the spread and even less is being done to support a SAFE return to our schools," the FEA posted on their Facebook page. "We must demand our governor take all necessary steps to slow the infection rate in our state before our children return to brick and mortar schools."
The FEA will hold a virtual press conference on Monday, July 20 at 1 p.m. Speakers will include FEA President Fedrick Ingram, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García.
You can read the full lawsuit below:
The Florida Department of Education sent out an emergency order on July 6, issued by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, that requires all Florida Public K-12 school districts to reopen brick and mortar schools as an option for families five days a week.
The order forced school districts to abandon hybrid options, like sending kids in person a few days a week and doing eLearning the remainder of the week, which others around the country are considering.
Within that petition, the Florida Education Association leaders are now asking those concerned about the re-opening of schools to send a letter to Gov. DeSantis. They've created a letter that families can copy and paste.