CITIZENS FOR STRONG SCHOOLS, INC., FUND EDUCATION NOW, INC., EUNICE BARNUM, JANIYAH WILLIAMS, JACQUE WILLIAMS, SHEILA ANDREWS, ROSE NOGUERAS, and ALFREDO NOGUERAS, Appellants,
FLORIDA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION; ANDY GARDINER, in his official capacity as the Florida Senate President; STEVE CRISAFULLI, in his official capacity as the Florida Speaker of the House of Representatives; and PAM STEWART, in her official capacity as Florida Commissioner of Education, Appellees, and CELESTE JOHNSON; DEAUNDRICE KITCHEN; KENIA PALACIOS; MARGOT LOGAN; KAREN TOLBERT; and MARIAN KLINGER, Intervenors/Appellees.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
appeal from the Circuit Court for Leon County. George S.
Siegel and Kirsten Anderson of Southern Legal Counsel, Inc.,
Gainesville; Timothy McLendon, Gainesville; Deborah Cupples,
Gainesville; Eric J. Lindstrom of Egan, Lev & Siwica,
P.A., Gainesville; Neil Chonin, Gainesville, for Appellants.
M. Brochin and Clay M. Carlton of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
LLP, Miami, for Amicus Curiae Certain Commissioners of 1998
Constitution Revision Commission.
H. Sokolow, Renee Meenach Decker and Angelica M. Fiorentino
of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC,
Orlando, for Amicus Curiae National Law Center on
Homelessness & Poverty, and Amicus Curiae Bassuk Center
on Homeless and Vulnerable Children and Youth.
R. Sullivan, Jacksonville, for Amicus Curiae Disability and
Public Benefits Clinic, Florida Coastal School of Law.
Stewart, Coral Gables, for Amicus Curiae University of Miami
School of Law Children Youth Law Clinic.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Jonathan A. Glogau, Chief,
Complex Litigation, Tallahassee; Dawn Roberts, General
Counsel, and Christie M. Letarte, Deputy General Counsel, The
Florida Senate, Tallahassee; Adam S. Tanenbaum, General
Counsel, Florida House of Representatives, Tallahassee, for
the Florida House of Representatives and Steve Crisafulli in
his official capacity as the Speaker of the Florida House of
Representatives; Judy Bone, General Counsel, Matthew H. Mears
and Mari M. Presley, Assistant General Counsels, Department
of Education, Tallahassee; Rocco E. Testani, Stacey M. Mohr
and Lee A. Peifer of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP,
Atlanta, pro hac vice, for Appellees.
N. Meros, Jr., of GrayRobinson, P.A., Tallahassee; Carl
Nichols, Daniel P. Kearney, Jr. and Kevin Gallagher of Wilmer
Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Washington, D.C., for
Amicus Curiae Foundation for Excellence in Education.
Bargil, Institute for Justice, Miami; Richard Komer,
Institute for Justice, Arlington, VA, pro hac vice; and
Timothy D. Keller, Institute for Justice, Tempe, AZ, pro hac
vice, for Intervenors/Appellees Institute for Justice.
years ago, Appellants initiated a legal challenge to
Florida's public school system, asserting that the
State's entire K-12 public education system - which
includes 67 school districts, approximately 2.7 million
students, 170, 000 teachers, 150, 000 staff members, and 4,
000 schools - is in violation of the Florida Constitution.
Appellants sued the Florida State Board of Education, the
President of the Florida Senate, the Speaker of the Florida
House of Representatives and the Florida Commissioner of
Education seeking a declaration that the State violated its
"paramount duty" to provide a "uniform,
efficient . . . and high quality system of free public
schools that allows students to obtain a high quality
education, " as required by Article IX, section 1(a) of
the Florida Constitution. Appellants sought declaratory and
supplemental relief below, including: a demand that the State
submit a remedial plan for the alleged constitutional
deficiencies; a demand that relevant studies be conducted for
necessary actions; and that the trial court retain
jurisdiction to provide any further appropriate legal relief.
affirm the trial court's ruling denying relief on the
basis that Appellants' arguments regarding the
State's duty to make adequate provision for an efficient
and high quality education raise political questions not
subject to judicial review, because the relevant
constitutional text does not contain judicially discoverable
standards by which a court can decide whether the State has
complied with organic law. Furthermore, the strict separation
of powers embedded in Florida's organic law requires
judicial deference to the legislative and executive branches
to adopt and execute educational policies those branches deem
necessary and appropriate to enable students to obtain a
"high quality" education, as directed by the
Florida Constitution. There is no language or authority in
Article IX, section 1(a) that would empower judges to order
the enactment of educational policies regarding teaching
methods and accountability, the appropriate funding of public
schools, the proper allowance of charter schools and school
choice, the best methods of student accountability and school
accountability, and related funding priorities.
most effective manner in which to teach students science,
mathematics, history, language, culture, classics, economics,
trade skills, poetry, literature and civic virtue have been
debated since at least the time of ancient Greece. Brilliant
philosophers, thinkers, writers, poets and teachers over the
past twenty-five centuries have dedicated their talents to
identifying the best means of providing a proper education to
help each child reach his or her highest potential in a just
society. In a republican form of government founded on
democratic rule, it must be the elected representatives and
executives who make the difficult and profound decisions
regarding how our children are to be educated. Absent
specific and clear direction to the contrary in the supreme
organic law, which does not exist in Article IX, section 1(a)
of the Florida Constitution, we uphold the trial court's
correct ruling that such decisions are not subject to
judicial oversight or interference.
affirm the trial court's ruling rejecting Appellant's
arguments challenging the State's constitutional
compliance with its duty to provide a "uniform"
education. We agree that the John M. McKay Scholarship
Program for Students with Disabilities - which affects only
30, 000 students and does not materially impact the K-12
public school system - provides a benefit to help disabled
students obtain a high quality education. Thus, the McKay
Scholarship Program does not violate Article IX, section 1(a)
of the Florida Constitution.
and Procedural History
2009, Appellants filed suit challenging the State's
education policies as invalid under Article IX, section 1(a)
of the Florida Constitution. Appellees moved to dismiss,
asserting in part that the allegations raised political
questions not subject to judicial review, and the motion was
denied. Appellees then sought a writ of prohibition in this
court, asserting that the claims were not justiciable, as
they raised political questions. Sitting en banc, this court
voted 7-1-7 to deny the petition for writ of prohibition and
allowed the litigation to continue in the trial court.
Haridopolos v. Citizens for Strong Schools Inc., 81
So.3d 465, 467 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011) (en banc). The en banc
court certified as an issue of great public importance the
Does Article IX, section 1(a), Florida Constitution, set
forth judicially ascertainable standards that can be used to
determine the adequacy, efficiency, safety, security, and
high quality of public education on a statewide basis, so as
to permit a court to decide claims for declaratory judgment
(and supplemental relief) alleging noncompliance with Article
IX, section 1(a) of the Florida Constitution?
Id. at 473. The dissenting judges would have granted
the writ, based on the separation of powers requirement of
Article II, section 3 of the Florida Constitution and the
political question doctrine. Id. at 480-81 (Roberts,
J., dissenting). The Florida Supreme Court declined to accept
jurisdiction to consider the certified question.
Haridopolos v. Citizens ...