Florida – December 12, 2017 – Yesterday, one parent and a charter school filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Palm Beach School Board that aims to stop local tax dollars collected from parents and community members from flowing equally to all public school students.
“I have two children in public schools. I chose to send them to schools that fit their particular learning needs. One attends a public charter school, the other is at a district-run school. Both of them should get the benefits of local education funding, but that’s not the reality,” explains Marleny Olivo, the parent who filed the motion. “My child who attends the Academy for Positive Learning will be robbed of education dollars if the school district wins their lawsuit.” She hopes her efforts will ensure equitable funding for all public school students in Florida. Located in Palm Beach County, the Academy for Positive Learning, which also joined the motion, is an independent public charter school (with no management company). Over 85% of the students qualify for free/reduced lunch and a quarter of students served are English-language learners. The “A” school has even earned high performing status from the Florida Department of Education – yet the lawsuit filed by the Palm Beach School District aims to strip these students, and charter school students statewide, of local funds presently earmarked for their education.
Last legislative session, Florida lawmakers listened to parents like Marley and put the needs of all public school students first by passing law HB7069. Language in that law guarantees that critical education dollars – from federal Title 1 funding for students from low-income families to local tax ad valorem dollars earmarked for education – reach all public school students equally. But in September 2017, the Palm Beach School Board filed a lawsuit to fight HB7069, and attempt to protect a skewed funding formula that punishes families who choose to send their child to a public charter school.
“For more than twenty years, Florida parents have endorsed school choice. Parents value their right to choose the best public education option for their child – whether it’s a charter school, magnet program, or district-run school, and they want local, state and federal education funding to follow their child,” said Lynn Norman-Teck, executive director, Florida Charter School Alliance, and charter school parent.
Charter schools are public schools. The students they serve have historically received less education funding than their peers attending district-run schools even though a report from the Florida Department of Education (April 2017) shows that students attending public charter schools, especially minority students, are making significant academic gains and, in many instances, outperforming their peers at district-run schools. Last year’s historic passing of law HB 7069, created equality in per student funding. This is the very law the Palm Beach School Board opposes.
“I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do for my children,” explains Marleny. “They have as much a right to an education as everyone else.”
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Note: Marleny Olivo and Academy for Positive Learning are being represented by Arnold Law Firm.