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.