TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Education Association (FEA) was disappointed today that the First District Court of Appeal reinstated a stay on the temporary injunction against Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s emergency order. We look forward to continuing to press our case in court for the sake of students, educators and local communities.
“We are going to keep fighting because lives are at stake,” said FEA President Fedrick Ingram. “This is not about closing schools or opening schools. This is about allowing local districts to do what is best to protect local families. Who rightfully gets to make these decisions regarding safety? Is that state officials in the Capitol bubble, or people in our communities? That power should stay with the districts, where it belongs. Educators and parents don’t need directives. They need good solutions for educating kids during a pandemic.”
In removing the automatic stay on the temporary injunction, Judge Charles Dodson of the Second Judicial Circuit wrote: “The statewide reopening of school during the month of August 2020, without local school boards being permitted the opportunity to determine whether it is safe to do so, places people in harm’s way.” The judge warned that, under Commissioner Corcoran’s emergency order, students, teachers and communities could suffer “potential irreparable injury.”
Especially since the stay has been reinstated, it is in the best interest of our state that this case be decided as quickly as possible. The Florida Education Association would urge the First District Court of Appeal to take Judge Dodson’s words to heart, and to rule in favor of our students, educators and communities, and against Commissioner Corcoran’s unconstitutional emergency order.
As FEA asserts in Florida Education Association et al v. Ron DeSantis, as Governor of the State of Florida et al, emergency order 2020-EO-06 is counter to Florida’s Constitution, which mandates that Floridians have a right to “safe” and “secure” public schools.
Local districts should hold power in making local decisions that can be life or death. They also should have the best possible information in making those decisions, including accurate, up-to-date data on coronavirus infections and exposures in their schools.
Their ability to get that data appears increasingly doubtful. Duval County Public Schools recently was ordered to stop publishing information about Covid-19 exposures and cases in schools. And after inadvertently publishing statewide data on Covid cases in schools last weekend, the state health department pulled back the report, saying it was in draft form. The data will be available in the “coming days and weeks,” the department said.
Earlier, as school districts began to contemplate plans for fall, county health departments were reportedly under orders to restrain what they told districts in relation to the pandemic, and to provide information but not recommendations on opening or closing campuses.
Now many districts are open and struggling to contain the coronavirus. New Covid-19 cases in schools are reported nearly every day in counties throughout the state.
For anyone interested, the FEA is collecting information about Covid-19 in schools.
CONTACT: Joni Branch, firstname.lastname@example.org, (850) 201-3223
The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents PreK-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.