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Coronavirus: Teachers in Florida sue govt over school reopening

Florida teachers on protest

Florida teachers are suing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in response to an order requiring schools to resume for in-person learning, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit against DeSantis, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez was filed by the Florida Education Association, as well as parents and educators.

According to the filing, the lawsuit asks for an injunction to stop the state officials from taking action if schools don’t reopen during the pandemic, and argues it is a violation of the Florida constitution to open the schools if they are unsafe.

“The Defendants’ mandate wrongfully assumes that state authorities can better determine the local health risks and educational needs of students and teachers than the local officials that were elected for that purpose,” the lawsuit reads. “This is arbitrary and capricious government action and violates due process.”

When asked for comment, Corcoran said in a statement that the FEA does not understand the guidance or has not read it.

“Clearly the FEA hasn’t read nor understands the Florida Department of Education’s guidance, the Emergency Order No. 2020-EO-06, or Florida law,” Corcoran said. “Currently, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida Statute 1001.42 (the law) required K-12 schools ‘to operate 180 days’ a school year. If you do the math, that equates to 5 days a week for 36 weeks.”

“This E.O. did not order any new directives regarding the requirements of schools to be open, it simply created new innovative options for families to have the CHOICE to decide what works best for the health and safety of their student and family. Additionally, the order created guaranteed funding for districts and schools to educate innovatively, as long as they continue to provide all students, especially at-risk students, with a world-class education, no matter what option they choose. The FEA frequently states that schools are underfunded, and if this frivolous, reckless lawsuit, succeeds it will eliminate these funding guarantees — completely contradicting their normal outcry,” he added.

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said generally they do not comment on pending litigation.

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