Judge Rules in Favor of Opt Out Families in 1st Phase of 3rd Grade Retention Lawsuit

August, 2016

Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director

Congratulations to the parents and students willing to take a stand as well as Opt Out Florida Network and attorney Andrea Mogensen! Leon County Judge Karen Gievers rendered her ruling in the temporary injunction phase of the 3rd grade retention lawsuit on August 26th. There is much excellent analysis which will be summarized below, but in a nutshell:
1) The judge said that children could not be held back solely for not having taken the 3rd grade FSA. She cited Florida Statute 1008.25(5) (c) (6), which says that parents must be notified:

"That the statewide, standardized English Language Arts assessment is not the sole determiner of promotion and
that additional evaluations, portfolio reviews, and assessments are available to the child to assist parents and the school district in knowing when a child is reading at or above grade level and ready for grade promotion." (Emphasis added)
Gievers was particularly harsh in her criticism of Hernando County for doing this.
2)  All of children retained were not given proper notice of reading deficiency, offered intensive remediation, and not told about the portfolio option, all of which the law clearly requires. Most or all of the children did not have this deficiency. The districts were ordered to give proper notice to all children and include the portfolio option.
3) She ruled that the minimal participation method of opting out is compliant with the law:
"Contrary to the Defendant School Board's contention, other evidence showed that the Hernando children did participate in the test, albeit minimally. [The statute does not define participation; the children were present on time, broke the seal on the materials and wrote their names, thus meeting their obligation to participate]."
4)  She required the Florida Department of Education (FL DOE) to properly supervise the districts in following the law t by giving parent the proper notices as discussed above:

"The request for injunctive relief against the State Education Defendants is granted. The Education Commissioner
and Florida State Board of Education shall properly notify County School Boards that the statutory Notice of Deficiency and remediation processes must be followed for every student participating in the FSA in any way who does not achieve at least a Level 3 score, must notify the County School Boards that the portfolio option must be offered, grade 3 students with no reading deficiency should not be retained, but should be promoted."
Here are links to some of the coverage:  
This is the first part in a very long process as the FLDOE and counties are already filing appeals and the actual lawsuit will not start until October, but there is now hope for more parental rights and that the state and the school districts will have to follow the laws passed by the legislature which is supposed to work according to this very good diagram from the Opt Out Florida Network:

 It will also be important to elect legislators who understand that parental rights, local control, and actual teaching, instead of just teaching to a test should far outweigh the influence of big government, corporations, think tanks, and politicians. See our voter guides in key races to help you make those decisions.

Website Powered by Morphogine