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Florida Supreme Court battles over constitutional amendment

Posted at 4:51 PM, Nov 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-08 13:24:22-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court took up a legal battle over a constitutional amendment that was approved by voters two decades ago. Officials are battling over whether or not the State has carried out the voters' wishes.

The 1998 Constitutional amendment requires the State to provide a "uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality" system of public schools.

Plaintiffs suggest that the legislature has not properly funded K-12 education in Florida.

Lower courts have ruled that it is difficult to determine exactly what "uniform" and "high quality" mean.

Attorney Jodi Siegel with the group 'Citizens for Strong Schools', asked the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal, that rejected the lawsuit.

"All children includes kids that come from poverty, kids that are racial minorities, and kids with disabilities," said attorney Seigel. "If you look at the statistics and dis-aggregate, there are significant populations that have great disparities and they are not achieving."

Meanwhile, Rocco Testani, an attorney for the state, argued the Supreme Court should uphold the lower-court decision.

"The level of resources available in school districts in Florida was not related to performance differences on standardized tests, or graduation rates, or any other outcome measures," said attorney Testani.

Plaintiffs are also challenging the constitutionality of two popular school voucher programs, which pay for more than 100 thousand kids to attend private schools.

The Court has not said when it expects to rule on the case.