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FSBA Won't Appeal Judge's Dismissal of Voucher Lawsuit

June 10, 2015 - 6:45pm

The Florida School Boards Association, one of the groups heavily invested in the lawsuit over Florida's Tax Credit Scholarship program, decided Wednesday it wouldn't be appealing a Leon County Circuit Court judge's dismissal of the case.

Meeting in Tampa, the group decided by a 21-9 vote that it wouldn't be appealing Judge George Reynolds' ruling to dismiss the case. Reynolds decided last month the Florida Education Association and other plaintiffs did not have standing to pursue the suit.

The student voucher program is the largest in the state, providing scholarships to roughly 70,000 low-income students, many of whom are minorities.

FSBA's decision to forego an appeal could put a dent in the support for the lawsuit for the Florida Education Association, the group which largely spearheaded the lawsuit.

Parent groups backed the FSBA's decision as a step in the right direction for Florida's students.

"I commend the FSBA on its decision," said Howard Coker, attorney for scholarship families named as defendants in the suit. "It is truly in the best interest of not just the scholarship children, but all schoolchildren -- including those in the public schools.”

The case was filed last August based on the groups' belief that the program violated Florida's Constitution by redirecting taxpayer money to religious institutions. Florida's Constitution prohibits state aid for religious institutions; a majority of students participating in the program choose to attend religious private schools.

The groups also contended the voucher program was harmful to public schools and funneled much-needed funding away from public schools that need it most.

Reynolds ruling refuted such claims.

Whether any diminution of public school resources resulting from the tax credit program will actually take place is speculative, as is any claim that any such diminution would result in reduced per-pupil spending or in any adverse impact on the quality of education, read the ruling.

The Florida Legislature created the voucher program in 2001 under then-Gov. Jeb Bush. Since then, thousands of students have attended different schools using the voucher money.

The Florida Education Association still hasn't announced whether it will appeal the court's ruling, but it seems likely -- FEA Vice President Joanne McCall has said she would take the case all the way to the Florida Supreme Court if necessary.


Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen


Please, don't leave citizen without choices. This scholarship have worked for many families, take that in consideration.

What union try to do? Get more money in your pockets. It already too full now

Take this thing away from our children not different from try to detroit this country.

All of them, the union member are a bitch

Why u try best thing for our future

I swear to my life, if the union stop this, I will not ever vote for Demorate Party any more.

Pleassssseeee , do not try to stop the good way to educate American children

Being able to have a choice is what it is all about. We are not tying to demean our public school teachers, we are just saying that our choice is to put our kids and grandkids in an environment which is beneficial to all. My grand daughter knows two languages at age 9 and is an honor student. I could not believe that she was reading a science book at age 7 and the attention to these students in smaller settings is nothing less than great. More power to the choices and we choose Step Up For Students!!!

I just want to thank each an every one of you who decided to help parents to have a choice in better education for our children, to take the time to go through all the trouble for us. Fighting in court and probably face many problems while doing this for strangers people you don't even know, one of them me, my family and some friends who benefit from your program. I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts, my daughter loves her school and is thanks to your Step up program that we are able to give her the opportunity to have a better education.

SUFS recipient schools are subject to more scrutiny than typical public schools by the very nature of their existence and the surrounding controversy. And an incredible number of minority and/or financially-challenged students are benefiting immensely from SUFS -- academically, relationally and otherwise. School is not the end-all and should be about training students to thrive and contribute in every way imaginable. There are issues in any format between problem teachers, misbehaving students, uninvolved parents, power-hungry unions, political hacks, money-lusting consultants, self-interested administrators and many more. Those stakeholders live off of the status quo but the good ones among those in education know the immense value of letting parents parent, teachers teach and so forth. And a note about what the founding fathers envisioned...They opposed public funding of religious institutions to establish a state religion a la the church taxes imposed before the Colonies rebelled. But a school that happens to have a religious element does not prima facie run contrary to Jefferson and friends? Don't take my word for it. Governor Morris, head of the committee that guided the final wording of the Constitution declared: "education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God." America's God and Country, William Federer, p.455 Establishment is one thing. Inclusion is another. Long live SUFS!

Because children are not 'yellow pencils' public schools simply are not equipped to properly teach every child. Some children simply learn better outside of the public system. If the teachers union persists in their efforts to eliminate the scholarship program, I WILL SERIOUSLY QUESTION THEIR COMMITMENT TO THE PURPOSE OF THEIR PROFESSION... NAMELY, THE BEST INTEREST OF EACH CHILD. A truly dedicated teacher will not vote to continue this lawsuit.

Remember, children are the future of our nation, please give them a chance, to learn and grow in the school of their choice. Thanks, to those who helped this program to keep running every day

This judge erred in his/her opinion. This "scholarship" program is nothing but an attempt to establish Christian schools for the public in direct contradiction to the will of our founding fathers. What will these religious bigots think when their money goes to a Muslim or Wiccan or Satanic school as it surely will!

You are calling concerned parents religious bigots? Is that what we are because we chose the educational tools appropriate for raising responsible children? I am sick and tired of people like you, liberals with pathetic excuses to impose their corrupt ideas on us and try to pass them as acceptable behavior even in our public schools; if we don't agree with you, you call us bigots. The SUFS is not created by religious bigots and it is not about christian schools, it is about the freedom of choosing the right school for each student's learning curve. The SUFS checks and validates schools according to their accreditation, scholastic grades and student success measured by aptitude testing recognized nationally, before they partner with any particular school. Apparently, you have not done your homework for this subject and your kid is not using SUFS, so why do you care? If public schools did not encourage disrespectful behavior to the teachers from students and promoted educational excellence, we would let our kids go there. Young minds without basic discipline, will become the source of anarchy and chaos.

Thank God for Step Up and school choice!! My 3 children are flourishing in Catholic school on Step Up scholarships. Why on earth would I want my children to attend the dying institution of government schooling where social engineering and government indoctrination rule the day?!! Those who are against school choice don't care a fig for the welfare of the children. My only wish is that the voucher program was open to ALL families, not just low-income ones. It's time to do away with the dinosaur of public schools and deal the final death blow. I love that my children are in a school where they are taught morals and modesty.

Freedom of choice! This country was build on this! Those who wish to take this away from us for purely egotistical, political and sadistic reasons need to understand one thing: stay out of our childrens' future. Do what you please with yours Ms. McCall and the likes of you, but if you are not willing to fork the bill to educate my child the way she deserves to be educated, you need to stop advocating for your political vendetta. We will fight you all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to. The education of my child in her private school, is half of what the public school around the corner gets per student!!! As a taxpayer, I am obligated to pay for this public school which I don't use! And the horror stories I hear from the neighborhood kids are disturbing: from bullies, to apathy from teachers and principal, to allowance of inappropriate behavior among students. My daughter has scored in the 99% percentile in the Stanford testing proving that a private school is not only an opportunity for a bright student to excel, but also an environment which allows the student to focus on her studies rather than being preoccupied with destructive influences perpetrated and permitted in many public schools.

Go away evil. Do not try to stop the good for children

Thank you Lord for the victory in the courts!!! Thank you for your providence in this long battle! Thank you Step Up that you care enough for our children that you fight for them to have a choice in the education they receive!!!

Can anyone tell me who try to take this scholarship away, I will never vote for them and I hope everyone do the same

I sent my first child to public school from PreK3-3rd grade. It was a horrible experience! Yes, we're Hispanic but I was born and raised here in the U.S.; however, my child was treated as if he was not. Later I found out the schools get more money if they place a child in ESOL. My child went to the same school from PreK3-Kindergarten and I pulled him out of that school because a teacher was trying to place him in ESOL...seriously!? I tried several schools and it was all the same thing. Teachers that are only there for their paycheck and in FL to teach the FCAT. That is no way to teach a child and educated America's future. Long story short; what the public school system did to him affected his self-esteem and going to a Catholic school was the best decision I ever made!!! I've been eligible off/on for Step Up for Students from partial to full scholarship. They have been a blessing and even when I don't qualify I continue to send my children to a private school because of their outstanding level of education and educators. The public school needs some major changes. I went to a public school from the 80s to 1999; the schools were nothing like they are now. In our school a student is held accountable for what they post on social media off and on school time. It must be frustrating for teachers in the public school setting being powerless and voiceless even when they do care. When I took my 2nd child to his 1st day in Kindergarten at the Catholic school what a difference experience! The teacher loves her job, the children to the point she works many hours after school on school grounds. Also, I don't understand the nonsense with the Pledge of Allegiance. I said it when I was a child and so did many before me. This is America people! If people don't like it then they should return to their native country or homeschool their children so that they teach them exactly how they want. My parents came from Mexico and my husband's parents from El Salvador. We celebrate America be use that's why they came here! They came in search of the American Dream and that encompasses learning the language, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, singing our national anthem, celebrating the 4th July! Yes, the U.S. is a melting pot but we shouldn't bend over backwards for people that don't want or accept what America is or represents.

Why you guy try to take the good from my children to do something non good for anyone?????

Thank you Jesus for answering of our prayers! When my son used to be in public school he was getting more D's and F's than C's , one of his teacher had told me that my son is a very smart kid, he could be an A student. The system set up in a way that we can't go back to him. He needs more time to grasp the information put before him and we can't go back one on one to him. Children learned at different pace, some fast some slow. Ever since my son is attending Christian Private school. He is a straight A student and principal honor roll, on top of that, he learns how to pray and learn the word of God each and everyday.I have reason to believe in My Jesus the Christ, Praises belong to you all mighty all powerful the most high God whom I serve. Thank you Jesus!!!

Oh God please help us Do not let them kill my kids future

Pleaseeeee. Do not take this scholarship away from my kid. I really need it

I do not know what to do if they take these chances away from my children

Children are the future. I do not know why people try to take away chances from them. So they want children end up in jail more than successful in the future. How evil they are

A right decision! Although horribly wrong to initially join the lawsuit, as an involved long time Florida citizen with an elementary child, and a Veteran, I am thankful for their repentance and taking this powerful move. Let's make it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR to our ELECTED OFFICIALS we suppory school choice.

Gut the education system why shouldn't children have the opportunity to attend the school of their choice, especially when the current public schools are becoming so secular. Current public education organization's are pushing agendas that have parents fearful of their children being indoctrinated by a liberal organization. The Pledge of Allegiance "One Nation Under God" can you believe the schools wanting to eliminate that! It's our heritage for God's sake! If the public system wants their share of the pie then they must be accountable for their actions. Kudos to the judge and the parents that have stood up for their children!

Thanyou jesus! There is power in prayer couldn't imagine sending my kids to these over run schools who the schools really dont care about. Just another number! Thank God for private christian schools!!

I support florida voices for choices. I Thank everyone for making this a victory, God bless America! We do have people who are paying attention and that our voices do count.


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