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August 22, 2017
The Polk County School Board voted on Tuesday to join other school districts from across the state in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of several sections of House Bill 7069.
The decision to join the lawsuit was unanimous.
Polk County joins the school districts of Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, St. Lucie, Lee, Bay, Volusia, and Hamilton counties in the litigation.
“It is unfortunate we find ourselves in this place, but the actions taken during the last legislative session have led us down this path, and we feel we have no other recourse at this time. Local communities need the ability to make decisions for the children they serve,” said Board Chair Kay Fields.
Board member Hazel Sellers said:
“I think it is time that we take a stand. Over the years, we have seen our authority be eroded by the state, and many times, it has not been to the benefit of our kids. I truly believe that House Bill 7069 does not benefit the children of Polk County. I am hopeful that we can work with our legislature to correct this legislation.”
Board member Sara Beth Reynolds added:
“We need to take a stand against the state deciding how we run our schools. We know at the local level what is best for our students. We need to give the school district the ability to best utilize resources to help our students succeed.”
House Bill 7069 includes numerous provisions, including a requirement that school districts share their capital funding tax revenue with charter schools.
By voting to join the lawsuit against House Bill 7069, the Polk County School Board also authorized an expenditure up to $25,000 for the cost of the litigation. The expenditure will be paid using money the district received as part of a settlement following the BP oil spill.