Judge Gievers ruled in favor of parents who claimed that their districts unfairly retained third graders solely because they did not complete the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA). The ruling revealed gaping holes in district procedures and in law. The arguments brought into question the reliance on the FSA to determine student competence.
Some children have already withdrawn from the public schools, so the order will not affect them. In Hernando County, the judge ordered that the students immediately be given the portfolio option to demonstrate their readiness for fourth grade.
The districts and the Department of Education had argued for a change of venue for the lawsuit to take it out of the Tallahassee circuit court. The motion was denied and Judge Gievers made her ruling on the case.
What did the districts do wrong?
- They failed to grant the portfolio option in lieu of the FSA.
- They failed to notify parents about deficiencies and provide remediation as required.
- They ignored that students who minimally participated by signing in and breaking the test seal had satisfied the statutory requirement.
A county by county ruling was made. Injunctive relief was denied if the children had left the district school system.
Orange County: The School Board had improperly (arbitrarily and capriciously) denied the plaintiff the right to use a teacher compiled portfolio to demonstrate the child’s proficiency. The plaintiff was treated differently than other children (home and private schooled) who are exempt from the testing requirement.
Hernando County: The Board illegally denied the plaintiffs the portfolio option. Moreover, the children did minimally participate in the FSA by attending the test sessions, breaking the seal on the tests, and wrote their names. Thus, they met the minimal requirements. Hernando Schools unenrolled several children from a magnet school for missing five days while they judicial review was being held.
Osceola County: The plaintiff has withdrawn at least temporarily from public school.
Sarasota County: The complaint was withdrawn when the county promoted the child to fourth grade without the test score.
Broward County: The county failed to send the parents the required notice of deficiency. The children had demonstrated competency in diagnostic test and school grades, yet they were not promoted.
Seminole County: The plaintiffs had demonstrated proficiency based on course grades and reading competence above grade level.
Pasco County: The plaintiff withdrew from public school.