Bat­tle be­gins over state funds for char­ter schools

Palm Beach County files the first of­fi­cial ac­tion against the de­bated ed­u­ca­tion law.

Tampa Bay Times - - Local - BY KRIS­TEN M. CLARK Times/Her­ald Tallahassee Bureau

TALLAHASSEE — The le­gal war has of­fi­cially be­gun over a highly con­tro­ver­sial, char­ter school-friendly ed­u­ca­tion law Repub­li­can state law­mak­ers pushed through last spring.

Palm Beach County School Board mem­bers filed a law­suit this week chal­leng­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of one part of House Bill 7069. An­other, po­ten­tially more far-reach­ing law­suit with the back­ing of at least 14 other school dis­tricts — in­clud­ing Pinel­las County — is still ex­pected in the weeks ahead.

Mean­while, char­ter school ad­vo­cates are ral­ly­ing their forces, too — vow­ing to fight in de­fense of HB 7069 in the court­room and also on the po­lit­i­cal bat­tle­field.

Among the weapons they’re pre­par­ing: A co­or­di­nated pub­lic re­la­tions cam­paign high­light­ing school dis­tricts’ spend­ing, and field­ing — and fund­ing — chal­lengers to school board mem­bers statewide who face re-elec­tion in 2018 and who have been crit­i­cal of HB 7069.

“We’re de­vel­op­ing a plan and we’re go­ing to be very ag­gres­sive,” said Ralph Arza, a former Mi­ami-Dade Repub­li­can law­maker who is now the gov­ern­ment af­fairs di­rec­tor for the Florida Char­ter School Al­liance. “We’re go­ing to ag­gres­sively de­fend a child’s right to have a desk and to be in a school . . . . This is go­ing to be a huge di­vid-

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