Lee County schools join suit against state over funding

FORT MYERS, Fla. The School Board of Lee County voted unanimously Tuesday to join other districts across Florida in suing the state over a controversial education bill.

“This is the only hope to stand up for the rights of our children,” school board member Chris Patricca said.

The suit challenges the constitutionality of House Bill 7069, a measure Gov. Rick Scott signed into law earlier this month that steers money away from public schools and to privately run charter schools. The bill drew staunch opposition from Lee County Superintendent Gregory Adkins and leaders of other districts statewide.

“We don’t take suing the state lightly,” school board member Steven K. Teuber said. “We don’t envy being in this position.”

Teuber called the measure a “bailout” for charter schools and took issue with the idea of the state telling districts how to distribute federal funds.

“They’re not going to tell us how to spend it, putting up hoops and criteria on things we have for our most needy,” he said.

Scott said he supported the bill, a top priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran, because it increases school choice options.

The district’s move on Tuesday authorizes it to spend $25,000 to participate in the suit and gives the board’s attorney the power to sign related documents and appoint legal counsel to the case.

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