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Miami-Dade County School Board Discusses Legal Options To Fight HB 7069

Holly Pretsky
Alberto Carvalho calls parts of HB 7069 "an existential threat."

The Miami-Dade County School Board plans to vote on whether to take legal action against the state to fight some provisions of House Bill 7069. That was the conclusion of Wednesday's informal workshop to discuss legal options.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho acknowledged the bill contains productive elements. "There are some provisions that we're very supportive of," he said, "the proverbial one ounce of honey for a gallon of vinegar." He specifically mentioned the daily recess requirement built into the bill, as well as the expansion of certain teacher bonuses. 

Attorneys Anthony Carriuolo and Alejandro Miyar of the law firm Berger Singerman presented  several arguments the school board could explore to make a case against the state for certain provisions included in the bill. 

Gov. Rick Scott signed  HB 7069 into law in June. The bill has drawn criticism from public school educators across the state who complain that it encourages government support of privately operated charter schools. Of particular concern is one provision of the bill that requires public schools to share construction and maintenance funding with charter schools. Another controversial provision is the Schools of Hope program which encourages the development of charter school options in low-income areas through government subsidies.

Carriuolo estimated a lawsuit would cost between $100,000 and $300,000, cautioning that those were ballpark estimates. School Board Member Mari Tere Rojas inquired as to the possibility of finding pro bono representation, but school board attorney Walter Harvey said he was "not optimistic" they could find capable representation for free.  

School boards in Broward, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties have also discussed challenging the bill in court. The Miami-Dade board did not reach a conclusion on what collaboration with other school boards would look like.