Battle begins over state funds for charter schools
Palm Beach County files the first official action against the debated education law.
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-