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Claiming a proposed constitutional amendment dealing with charter schools that is due to appear on the ballot in November is “intentionally misleading” to voters, a lawsuit is asking the courts to declare the measure unconstitutional and strike it from the ballot.

The League of Women Voters, along with two individuals associated with the League, filed a lawsuit in Leon County Circuit Court on Thursday seeking Amendment (Revision) 8, that was placed on the ballot earlier this year by the Constitution Revision Commission, be removed from the ballot.

“The ballot title and summary fail to inform voters that a chief purpose of the revision to Article IX, Section 4(b) is to eliminate the long-standing, exclusive authority of local elected school boards to operate, control, and supervise all public schools, including charter schools, in their respective school districts,” the plaintiffs claim in the lawsuit.

The particular part of the amendment that is being questioned by the lawsuit has to do with the provision that would allow charter schools to open facilities in a county without having to get approval from local school boards. Under current law, it’s up to local school boards to approve and regulate public schools–including charter schools–within their individual counties.

The suit charges that the ballot summary was “deliberately crafted and sequenced so as to fail to inform voters that the revision actually consists of three distinct, unrelated proposals, and to conceal from voters the chief purpose of the portion of Revision 8 pertaining to the authority of local elected school boards.”

“By only telling voters that ‘the state’ is permitted to operate, control, and supervise public schools not established by the elected district school boards, the ballot summary affirmatively misleads voters regarding the purpose and effect of the revision,” the lawsuit charges.

“The text of Revision 8 provides only that district school boards will not have the authority to operate, control, and supervise public schools they do not establish,” the suit claims. “The revision text is silent on who or what will have such authority.”

The suit claims the amendment would allow the Legislature “to devise a method of creating and operating new public schools with no input from or participation by the local school boards, school districts within whose borders the schools are located, or local electors.”

The proposed amendment, if it were to remain on the ballot, would require 60 percent of support from the voters.

 

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