Clay School Board votes to join suit over education law

The Clay County School Board voted 3 to 2 on Tuesday to join a lawsuit proposed by at least 14 school districts challenging a new education law.

Among the districts that voted to sue is Duval County, which earlier this month voted 4 to 2 to join the lawsuit. At least two other districts are said to be discussing it pending a vote.

The lawsuit is expected to question the constitutionality of the massive education bill, in part because it deals with about 70 subjects while the state constitution requires bills to deal with one topic. There are also questions about measures in the bill which are designed to steer millions of dollars from districts to charter schools and will limit school board’s oversight role with charter schools, which are independent public schools.

Clay School Board members Ashley Gilhausen and Betsy Condon cast the dissenting votes.

Gilhausen said she agrees “there’s garbage in the bill” but she thinks $25,000 to join the suit is a gamble, given that there are larger, “deeper-pocketed” districts endorsing the lawsuit.

Condon said she fears that the lawsuit might be thrown out because some districts which are part of it have also applied for state dollars earmarked in the new law for “schools of hope.” She also was concerned that the proposed attorney representing the districts is not licensed in Florida.

Sources involved in the suit have said the attorney will work with a Florida-based law firm for this suit.

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