Court Sides with Parents, Students, and Public Charter Schools on Funding Question

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Circuit Court of Leon County finds HB 7069 constitutional, upholds law requiring equitable funds for public charter school students

WASHINGTON, DC (April 4, 2018) – Today, the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial Circuit in Leon County ruled in favor of parents, students and public charter school leaders in the state of Florida who have been defending their right to equitable funding.

In September 2017, public charter school opponents filed a legal challenge to HB 7069, a bill passed and signed into law earlier in 2017 to make charter and district schools students more equitably funded. Historically, charter school students have received less funding than their district counterparts, thereby being short-changed for simply choosing a different public school.

Public charter school parent Lisa Burdue Tackett praised the ruling, saying, “Regardless of whether a child attends a district school or a charter school, they are all public school students. My son Jake struggled for over six years before landing at Hope Charter School where he is now excelling. We should be celebrating and supporting schools - whether they are a district school or a charter school - that give students like Jake a chance to succeed. I’m thankful the Florida legislature recognized that when they passed HB 7069 and I’m grateful today that the Court does too.”

Shawn Arnold, attorney for the parents, students, and public charter schools added, “Today’s victory is a win for the students and parents of Florida. The Florida legislature got it right when they directed that charter schools should receive the same funding as other public schools in a given district. This case has been nothing more than an attempt by charter school opponents to take a political defeat and claim it was unconstitutional. We are grateful the Court has not interjected itself into the policymaking arena, and instead upheld what elected officials deliberatively decided was best for the students of Florida.”

“We are pleased to see the Court ruled to uphold the legislature’s decision and protect funding for public charter schools and the students they serve,” said Renita Thukral, Senior National Legal Advisor to the National Charter School Legal Action Fund. “We have seen cases like this in other parts of the country and time and again charter school opponents lose. Charter schools are an important part of the public school system in Florida and deserve to be funded as such. Fortunately, for these schools and students, the court agrees.”

A call for reporters will be held Thursday April 5, 2018 at 9:30 am ET at 703-214-5460. Attorney Shawn Arnold and several parents and school leaders involved with the case will be available. For questions or to speak with someone before then, please contact Katherine Bathgate at 303-478-8444.