Adequacy Case Argued Before Florida Appeals Court

in Florida, NEWS FROM THE ACCESS NETWORK

After the State Supreme Court had narrowly rejected their constitutional adequacy claim in 1998, advocates in Florida waged a successful referendum campaign that resulted in the state’s adoption of a new constitutional education clause, one of the strongest in the country. It states that it is the state’s “paramount duty to make adequate provision…. for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system of education.” In 2009, Plaintiffs in Citizens for Strong Schools v. Florida State Board of Education commenced a litigation that claimed that the state was violating the new constitutional requirements standards. The state responded with a motion to dismiss that that had invoked the 1998 state Supreme Court decision and argued that the new constitutional standards were not definable and measurable. The trial court denied that motion In August 2010.

Now, the state’s legislative leaders, as well as the commissioner and state board of education, have filed a “writ of prohibition” in the Court of Appeals for the First District, arguing that the trial court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the issues are not justiciable. Plaintiffs have attacked this move as being an end-run around a proper appeal; they state that a writ of prohibition is a rarely used procedural device that is invoked only when a court cannot hear a case under any circumstances. The matter was argued on June 30, 2011 and a decision is expected shortly.

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