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Florida judge rules against state order requiring schools to reopen or face loss of funding

State says it plans to appeal
Posted at 9:26 AM, Aug 25, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida judge sided with a state teacher's union Monday in ruling that the Florida Department of Education could not require all brick and mortar schools to open by the end of the month or lose funding.

Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson ruled in favor of the Florida Education Association (FEA), in a lawsuit meant to stop the Education Department's order that would require all schools in the state to reopen for in-person classes by Aug. 31 or face loss of funding. The union filed their lawsuit shortly after the mandate was issued on July 6, claiming the order was in violation of the constitution's safe and secure public education guarantee.

The FEA said Monday's ruling is a victory for schools all around the state of Florida.

"It is a pushback on reckless disregard on human life," said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. "It is a pushback on politics overtaking safety and the science and the well being of communities."

Fred Piccolo, a spokesperson for the governor's office, said the state intended to appeal the ruling.

"We intend to appeal this ruling and are confident in our position and in the authority of the Commissioner and the Governor to do what is best for our students," Piccolo said.

The legal team for the FEA says the state can appeal, which would mean an automatic stay in the ruling given Monday. To lift the stay, the state would need to deliver more arguments in front of Dodson.

This story was originally published by Kristian Thomas on WTXL in Tallahassee, Florida.