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Corcoran's 'Schools of Hope' Law Wins Against 13 Florida School Boards

April 19, 2018 - 5:45pm
Richard Corcoran and Judge John Cooper
Richard Corcoran and Judge John Cooper

Rejecting arguments of school boards across the state, a Leon County circuit judge this week formally rejected a challenge to a controversial 2017 law that included a series of moves to boost charter schools.

Circuit Judge John Cooper, who had earlier indicated he would turn down the challenge, issued an 18-page ruling Tuesday siding with the Florida Department of Education and the State Board of Education, the defendants in the case.

The lawsuit centered on a measure, commonly known as HB 7069, that was a priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, and became one of most-controversial issues of the 2017 legislative session. Debate about the measure highlighted continuing tensions between local school districts and the state about oversight and expansion of charter schools, which are public schools but are often run by private operators.

The mammoth law included changes such as requiring county school boards to share local property-tax revenues with charter schools for building-related expenses. It also set the stage for adding new charter schools --- dubbed “schools of hope” --- that would serve students whose traditional public schools have been considered low-performing.

Among other issues, the law called for school districts to provide federal Title I funding --- which is designed to help schools that serve large numbers of low-income students --- to charter schools.

School boards in Alachua, Bay, Broward, Clay, Duval, Hamilton, Lee, Orange Pinellas, Polk, St. Lucie, Volusia and Wakulla counties filed the lawsuit last year arguing, at least in part, that HB 7069 infringed on their constitutional authority to operate public schools within their districts. The Collier County School Board also intervened in the case.

Cooper held a hearing April 4 and, according to Tampa Bay Times and Orlando Sentinel reports, said he would rule in favor of the state. He then issued the 19-page final order and judgment this week rejecting the arguments raised by the school boards.

For example, Cooper dismissed an argument that the law required school boards to share local property-tax revenues with charter schools in an arbitrary way.

“HB 7069’s enrollment-based formula for charter-school capital-outlay funding accounts for the fact that schools with more students need more classrooms, and charter schools are required to spend capital-outlay funding for substantially the same purposes as school districts,” Cooper wrote. “The local boards have not shown that the capital-millage (property tax) provisions are constitutionally different from the numerous other, presumptively constitutional requirements governing the use of local tax dollars in Florida’s public schools --- which have included charter schools for more than 20 years.”

As another example, Cooper rejected arguments that school districts have a right to decide how to allocate Title I money.

“HB 7069’s effort to direct more Title I funding toward individual schools is also rationally related to legitimate concerns about ensuring that Title I funds benefit schools with the highest proportion of economically disadvantaged students,” the judge wrote.


Teachers Unions and certain School Biard Members: putting their interests first. And the heck with children’s ability to get an education. Kudos, Judge.

This here is the influence of Betsy DeVos who bought her way into the job to destroy public education and to put money in the pockets of her and her friends via these charter schools... with a side benefit of dumbing down Americans and the Florida legislature stands by to gain something $$$.

This is a cash grab for Corcoran and his political cronies who take millions of dollars from the charter school lobby, plain and simple. Hell, his wife runs charters. If that is not a conflict of interest or ethics violation, then nothing is. People actually voted for this idiot and he runs the House in Florida, unbelievable! Teachers cannot make kids do their homework. Teachers cannot make kids come to school. Teachers cannot make kids study for tests, ask for help, schedule tutoring, or go to study halls. The only people that can do this for kids is their parents, and in many lower economic communities, it is just not happening. Aside from that, 9 out of 10 charter schools fail within 2 years. The money they get for every cost is non-refundable. Some of them even have this built into their business plans to close up shop and open in another district the very next year. The U.S. is currently 23rd in the world in education, and falling nearly every year. Not one country in the top 10 in education relies significantly on private or charter schools. They invest in a high quality educational system, where teachers are valued, support systems are built in, decision-making for curriculum and testing are handled by educational personnel, and absolutely none of them are run or significantly influenced by politicians. Until you wake up and vote out the people that are ruining this country in the name of cash and paybacks, we will continue to experience more of the same. The future of this country depends on it...

When a Charter Schools fail and they do at an unexeptable rate they keep the money. We cannot have Betsey DeVos dumb down America by taking our tax dollars from Public Schools to give to schools that teach their version of history and faith.

First of all what in heck is all that arabian crap in comments!? Then I must say I am not sure about what version of history and faith you mean. It is not meant to be a critical question though. I find that the history has totally gone wrong in public schools. What my grandkids tell me about what they learn and the questions they ask me, because history is my baby, are totally wrong of what they learn. Public schools also forbid faith in their classes, yet they push islam. Public school is horrible! I do not agree with what DeVos is doing either. Common core was to be gone, she didn't make it go away! Department of Education was to be gone. It's like money speaks, every time. It's frustrating! Our school tax money should go to good education only, in public school, and that is not happening! More and more teachers take it upon themselves to teach their personal beliefs and this sick sex ed, even to preschoolers. Yes our schools have gone crazy and so have so many teachers. Someone needs to clean house! Charter schools are not kept account of, we had one here where a couple of teachers were doing in appropriate things for good grades. My daughter was in that one for two weeks and I took her out, for other reasons though. We need accountability for all schools and teachers. There are so many wonderful teachers, who have to teach things they don't belief should be taught to children. Very sad situation. But states can change that, remember DeVos left education up to the states, so we need to pin Rick Scott down. I keep writing to him, but he never answers. So you are right, we can't have DeVos dumb down America, but we also cannot have Scott dumb down our FL children. We need to totally overhaul the standards and stop letting teachers add their personal crap to teach our children. Stories that go along with the lesson, experienced by teachers, are okay if it doesn't involve political views or sexual preference, I think good personal stories add to the lesson. Good comment Dana Aberman.

If you look at who is connected to most of Florida's charter schools, you will see that the owners are related to current or past Florida legislators. The other problem is that we give taxpayer money to build the school and buy the electronics, but we do not own any of this property. The proceeds from any sales go directly into the pocket of the private owners of these so-called public schools.

Take all the money and strip local school boards of the power and then attack the schools because they are failing. Welcome to Florida. No wonder teachers are leaving the field further deteriorating public schools. For a difference for Florida vote Catherine Price for Florida Senate District 26

"Peel back a layer", and you'll find that the 'fault' lies with incompetent teachers, ineffective Teachers Unions, and "good old boy" school districts; ("Those that can't 'do', teach; Those that can't 'teach', become gym teachers [or Union Representatives]; and "total incompetents" run for School Boards and meteorically "rise to the level of their own incompetence")....{some even eventually become Judges in their own protected "backwater swamp"...}

Come and teach for a DAY or Two!! You will place the fault squarely in the court of the incompetent permissive parents who have produced a generation of hooligans who are in school for the social aspect or more clients for their drug deals. The behavior and work ethic of America's students has deteriorated to an alarming degree. If you call parents and try to form a triangle of support to help their student learn, you are "out to get their kid." It has become ridiculous!!

Welcome too liberal idiology and the destruction of the American family. BTW teachers are not immune

all from the chubby fool from NY, who knows nothing about Florida, or their schools, but likes to spout off from his trailer park porch like he does... Go back to NY

The entrenched interests resist challenges to the status quo and/or their authority. It's all about power and influence not offering viable alternative to under performing public schools. And don't forget, Charter Schools are non-union so you know where they stand as well. Sad. Very sad.

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