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5 Things to Know: Motion to Dismiss School Reopening Lawsuit

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —- Attorneys for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Education Association dueled before a Tallahassee judge Thursday, with the fate of the DeSantis’ administration’s order that public schools open their doors for in-person instruction hanging in the balance.

5 Things to Know

1. What is the FEA asking the judge to do?

The teachers union wants Leon County Circuit Court Judge Charles Dodson to grant a temporary injunction freezing the administration’s order, calling it unconstitutional because it substitutes the governor’s prerogative for those of independently elected school board members in each of Florida’s 67 counties.

2. What about the DeSantis administration?

In a motion to dismiss hearing Friday, the governor’s lawyers will ask Dodson to short-circuit the union’s lawsuit. They argue the DeSantis administration, which oversees the state Department of Education, has supreme authority to craft and implement statewide school reopening procedures.

3. How does public health factor into the proceedings?

In a status hearing Thursday, FEA attorney Ron Meyer told Dodson the administration’s order puts politics ahead of safety. “We are Wuhan, as far as the rest of the world is concerned,” he said. “We’re going to make a political judgment, apparently, at the state level, to rush to open schools, damn the torpedoes, who cares whether it’s safe or not, and that’s just simply not right and it’s not constitutional.”

4. Why is time of the essence?

The school year has already begun in some Florida school districts, with the first day of school in the majority of districts happening in the next two weeks. The union has accused the DeSantis administration of attempting to run out the clock by requesting a change of venue motion — granted last week — that has effectively delayed the legal proceedings by a week.

5. What happens next?

Dodson has preliminarily scheduled a hearing on the union’s temporary injunction motion for next Wednesday and Thursday. That plan would be moot if he rules in favor of the administration and grants its request to dismiss the suit.

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