FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
appeal from the Circuit Court for Escambia County. John L.
Benjamin James Stevenson, ACLU Foundation of Florida,
Pensacola, and Nancy Abudu, ACLU Foundation of Florida,
Miami, for Appellant.
L. Hammons, The Hammons Law Firm, Pensacola, for Appellees.
S.J. challenges a trial court order dismissing with prejudice
his complaint requesting mandamus relief. Appellant, a high
school student, requested the trial court to require appellee
the Escambia County School Board (the School
to issue a final order as defined by the Administrative
Procedure Act (the APA), in section 120.57(7), Florida
Statutes (2015), in an administrative proceeding regarding
appellant's "disciplinary reassignment" by the
School Board. We find that the complaint for mandamus relief
sufficiently alleged facts that entitle appellant to mandamus
relief. We, therefore, reverse and remand for the
trial court to issue an alternative writ of mandamus
directing the School Board to show cause why the alternative
writ should not be granted. See Holcomb v. Dep't of
Corr., 609 So.2d 751, 753 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992);
Radford v. Brock, 914 So.2d 1066, 1067-68 (Fla. 2d
a minor, sued the School Board and the Superintendent of
Schools, Malcolm Thomas. In his complaint, appellant alleged
that the superintendent removed him from his regular,
traditional school, West Florida High School, through a
process called "disciplinary reassignment, " and
did not give him an option to attend another traditional
school. Instead, appellant alleged he had to finish out the
school year at either an alternative school or a virtual
school. Appellant opposed the "disciplinary
reassignment" and requested a hearing, which was held
pursuant to the APA, sections 120.569 and 120.57, Florida
Statutes. On January 28, 2016, the hearing officer issued a
recommended order recommending appellant be
"disciplinarily reassigned" for the remainder of
the 2015-2016 school year.
February 16, 2016, the School Board adopted the hearing
officer's recommended order, and in March 2016 it created
a Notice of Adoption of Recommended Order. There is no
indication that the School Board intended its Notice of
Adoption of Recommended Order to be a rendered final order
pursuant to section 120.57(7). Further, the School
Board's actions throughout this proceeding indicate that
although it held a hearing on the issue of appellant's
"disciplinary reassignment" pursuant to the APA, it
did not intend to bestow upon appellant all of the rights
afforded by the APA.
the Notice of Adoption of Recommended Order was filed,
appellant filed a complaint alleging two counts, only one of
which is pertinent to the current appeal: appellant requested
a writ of mandamus against the School Board, alleging the
Board had an indisputable legal duty to issue a written final
order pursuant to the APA following the hearing and the
hearing officer's recommended order of "disciplinary
reassignment." Appellant reasoned that his
"disciplinary reassignment" affected his
substantial interests much like expulsion. Specifically as to
the nature of the "disciplinary reassignment, "
appellant's complaint alleged:
10. Following an incident on October 1, 2015, the
Student's regular school principal suspended the Student.
11. Based on the October 1 incident, the Student's school
principal requested that the Superintendent remove the
Student from his regular school.
12.On October 21, 2016 [sic], the Superintendent recommended
to the School Board to remove the Student from his regular
school through a process called "disciplinary
13.Both disciplinarily reassigned students and students
expelled with services are removed from their regular
schools. Expelled students are offered the same educational
services at an alternative or virtual school as offered to
disciplinarily reassigned students.
14. Like the determination to expel a student, the
determination to disciplinarily reassign a student affects
his substantial interest.
15.Disciplinary reassign [sic] affects a student's
substantial interest in a high quality education and
educational opportunities in several ways including the
quantity and quality of work assignments, the curriculum
design, availability of physical education, the teaching
methods and learning activities used, access to highly
qualified teachers, positive social interactions with
traditional school students during both instructional and
non-instructional periods, eligibility to participate in
sports and extracurricular activities, blemish on school
record, and the location of the school.
16.After the Superintendent issued his recommendation of
disciplinary reassignment, the Superintendent prohibited the
Student from attending his regular school. The Superintendent
has prohibited the Student from attending his regular school
since the Superintendent made the recommendation of
disciplinary reassignment. The Superintendent continues
to prohibit the Student from attending his regular school or
any other traditional school in the School District.
. . . .