Teachers’ Union Lawsuit Struck Down for Second Time
Washington, DC (Dec. 30, 2014) – The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, celebrates a circuit court’s decision to dismiss a teacher union led lawsuit against Florida’s new Personal Learning Scholarship Account (PLSA) and improvements to the state’s highly successful tax credit scholarship program. In the amended complaint, the teachers’ union focused on the tax credit scholarship program to assert its standing in the lawsuit. This is the second time this lawsuit was thrown out.
“The court’s decision is a win for all students in Florida, especially special needs students and their parents and shows how out of touch the status quo of the education system is,” said Kevin P. Chavous, executive counsel of the American Federation for Children. “In two consecutive attempts the teachers’ union arguments against the PLSA program and improvements to the tax credit scholarship program were rejected. Low-income students and those with disabilities deserve to have their unique needs met in the classroom, and PLSAs give students the freedom to customize their education so they thrive academically.”
The PLSA program gives children with disabilities the opportunity to tailor their education to their unique needs. Florida’s main scholarship funding organization, Step Up for Students, has awarded more than 1,000 PLSA scholarships to students with special needs including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Spina bifida and severe cognitive disabilities.
The Personal Learning Scholarship Account program is the second program of its kind in the nation. Modeled off of Arizona’s successful Empowerment Scholarship Account program, Florida special needs students can take their educational funds and use them towards private school tuition, tutoring, curriculum, and specialized therapies.
“We are thankful that Chief Judge Francis dismissed the challenge to this bill—stating that the unions had no standing to challenge that bill,” added John Kirtley, vice chairman of the American Federation For Children and chairman of Step Up For Students. “We believe that this ruling supports the argument that the union also has no standing to challenge the tax credit scholarship program in their other suit against the tax credit scholarship program.”
In a separate lawsuit, the Florida teachers’ union, state school boards association, and PTA have filed a suit against the state’s highly successful tax credit scholarship program, which serves over 70,000 low-income students. The unions are using standing arguments in this separate lawsuit that are similar to the ones dismissed by the circuit court judge today.Florida parents and voters have voiced their strong support for educational choice programs.
No legal challenges to the popular Pennsylvania EITC tax credit program have occurred to date. Unlike the Florida program Pennsylvania provides tax credits for public school improvement as well.