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Teachers union asks Supreme Court to take voucher case

in Statewide by

Attorneys for the statewide teachers’ union on Monday filed a brief asking the Florida Supreme Court to review a lower court decision involving the state’s largest private school voucher program.

The Florida Education Association said the supreme court “should accept jurisdiction and review the (1st District Court of Appeal)’s decision.”

The appellate court had sided with a trial court’s decision to throw out the lawsuit filed by the association and others. They argued that its method of funding private-school educations for more than 90,000 schoolchildren this year is unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel said the plaintiffs don’t have standing to sue because they haven’t been harmed by the program. The panel also denied that it violates state law.

The vouchers are funded by corporations, which in turn receive tax credits on money they owe to the state.

But the brief filed Monday said “the decision not only undermines the law of taxpayer standing, but it effectively holds the Scholarship Program – and any other government program similarly funded by a targeted tax credit rather than direct appropriations – to be immune from challenge under … the Florida Constitution.”

The state Supreme Court previously ended a different voucher program championed by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Florida has several voucher programs in place; the one being challenged extends vouchers to low-income families, most of them black or Hispanic, who send their children to religious schools.

It began in 2001 under Bush, and legislators approved expanding it to middle-income families starting this fall.

The union’s lawsuit asserted that it violates the state’s constitution by creating a parallel education system and directing tax money to religious institutions.

Background material from The Associated Press used in this post, reprinted with permission. 

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