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Judge to Consider Motion to Dismiss School Reopening Lawsuit

STATEWIDE — A judge in Tallahassee has scheduled a hearing in Tallahassee on Friday morning on the DeSantis Administration’s motion to dismiss the Florida Education Association’s lawsuit seeking to overturn an order to require schools to open their doors for in-person learning.

What You Need To Know

  • Lawsuit wants school districts to have control over in-person learning
  • Governor pushing to have in-person learning option
  • RELATED stories:

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is continuing to push having the in-person learning option, as this lawsuit makes its way through the legal system. The FEA contends the coronavirus pandemic threatens the health of teachers, students and their families if they return to in-person classes, and its lawsuit calls on a judge to return control of whether schools can reopen for in-person instruction back to local school districts.

At a status hearing Thursday, the judge set the schedule for the case moving forward. If the FEA’s lawsuit is not dismissed at Friday’s hearing, an expedited mediation must begin by no later than 9 a.m. ET Tuesday, August 18 and end by midnight that day. The judge also scheduled heaings for August 19 and 20 to consider FEA’s motion for a temporary injunction against Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s emergency order.

Classes are scheduled to reopen soon, and if the association wins, back to school could look very differerent.

Last week, the governor’s team won a change of venue motion from Miami-Dade County to the Leon County Circuit Court.

​DeSantis is continuing to support the in-person learning option, quoting an Orange County elementary school teacher when highlighting the role teachers play in student lives.

“She said, ‘As educators, our responsibilities extend far beyond teaching academics, we offer solace to parents in need, we offer a safe haven to students who may otherwise not know calm. We inspired, we assist, we support, we listen, we problem solve,’” DeSantis said.

The governor also said teachers are often the first line of defense in combating child abuse.

“If you look back at calls to the child abuse hotline, and compare April of 2019 when schools were fully in session to April 2020 which is when we had distance learning, you’ll see a nearly 40 percent drop off in calls. That represents a decrease in nearly 20,000 calls,” DeSantis said.

The governor said he is encouraged by trends including a sustained decline in new cases over the past few weeks in Florida.

He is also making it clear Florida is not yet where it needs to be.

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