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Federal judge says ‘no’ to student promotions case

in Statewide by

From The Associated Press, reprinted with permission:

A federal judge has turned down a request from Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and six school districts to take over a lawsuit that challenges the state law preventing some students from being promoted to the fourth grade.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled Friday following an emergency hearing.

His decision means that the dispute will head back to state court in Tallahassee.

Department of Education and school district lawyers said the case belonged in federal court because the parent had initially alleged an equal protection violation.

“The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from denying any person within its territory the equal protection of the laws,” the Legal Information Institute explains. “This means that a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances.”

Walker maintained he did have jurisdiction over the case and that it was a “close call.”

But he said most of the case revolves around state law.

The lawsuit was filed after students were held back because they didn’t pass a state mandated test.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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