Florida’s First District Court of Appeals Upholds the Constitutionality of HB 7069

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Florida First District Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of HB 7069. In affirming the lower court’s decision, the First District Court of Appeals explained:

“While charter schools are statutorily considered to be public schools, the reality is that they do compete with the traditional public schools in their districts. Indeed, section 1002.33(2)(c)2., Florida Statutes (2017), sets forth that one of the purposes of charter schools is to “[p]rovide rigorous competition within the public school district to stimulate continual improvement in all public schools.” Given such, the State’s constitutional duty to make adequate provision for Florida’s public schools must be interpreted to mean that the State has a duty to ensure that charter schools are not neglected by the school boards.”

HB 7069, which was passed by the Florida Legislature and signed into law in 2017, ensures that school boards share capital outlay dollars (local tax revenue) with public charter schools. Because of HB 7069, today, charter schools are required to receive their fair share of local tax revenue, which helps ensure charter schools can provide adequate facilities for their students. Among other provisions, HB 7069 requires that Title I money be given directly to school districts and charter schools rather than district-wide programs. The law also requires the creation of the “Schools of Hope” program, which provides funding to charter school operators to move into areas with low-performing traditional schools.

“We praise Florida’s First District Court of Appeals’ ruling to protect equitable funding for all public-school students,” said Robert Reed, Jr., senior director of Legal Affairs at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Today’s ruling affirms that Florida’s charter schools will not be neglected by local school boards. All charter schools are public schools and their autonomous model puts the needs of students before the education bureaucracy. Every public-school student deserves the equal treatment entitled to them under the law.”

Nearly 300,000 students attend charter schools in more than 500 schools across Florida. Prior to the passage of HB 7069, nearly every school district in the state refused to share locally-raised capital outlay dollars with charter schools. Because charter schools must often spend a sizable portion of their annual operating budget on rent payments for their school facility, charter schools have far less money to use for essential operations and classroom support. 

The National Alliance’s Charter School Legal Action Fund has supported efforts to uphold HB 7069 since it was signed into law in 2017.