Lawsuit threatened against DeSantis over African-American studies, but College Board agrees to revise curriculum to meet state standards

by | Jan 25, 2023

  • Famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump and attorney Craig Whisenhunt announced on Wednesday their intent to file a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida if officials do not rescind its rejection of AP African American Studies in high schools.
  • However, The College Board on Tuesday stated that it would work to revise the course syllabus to better align with Florida education standards. 
  • Should the suit be filed, three high school students would serve as the main plaintiffs. 
  • The Florida Department of Education initially rejected the course from being offered on grounds that it is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law.” 
  • Controversial topics in the original course curriculum included subjects such as “Black Queer Studies,” and “The Reparations Movement.”

A group of high school students represented by civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Craig Whisenhunt announced on Wednesday their intent to file a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida should it uphold its rejection of AP African American Studies from being taught in high schools.

Crump and Whisenhunt stated that they will follow through in filing the lawsuit should the state fail to negotiate with The College Board to allow high schools to offer the class to students.

In the case that the suit is filed, three high school students, Elijah Edwards, Victoria MacQueen, and Juliette Heckman, would serve as the lead plaintiffs.

“Hopefully it won’t come to that, Gov. DeSantis,” said Crump regarding the potential lawsuit.

Additionally, Sen. Geraldine Thompson stated that she is working with state Rep. Gallop Franklin to draft legislation that would require any school receiving state funding to adhere to a set of to-be-drafted standards in teaching African-American history.

In a letter obtained by The Capitolist dated January 12th, the DeSantis administration told the College Board, which administers standardized AP testing, that the course’s rejection was decided on the basis that the class is “inexplicably contrary to Florida law,” and “significantly lacks educational value.”

The Governor’s Office told The Capitolist that it views the course as a “vehicle for a political agenda” and “leaves large, ambiguous gaps that can be filled with additional ideological material,” which led to the state’s decision to bar its instruction in high schools across Florida. The department also published an infographic explaining additional “concerns found within” the course, which include “Black queer studies” and “the reparations movement.”

Following the state’s pushback, College Board announced on Tuesday that it would update the course, as confirmed by Florida Department of Education Communications Director Alex Lanfranconi.

“We look forward to reviewing the College Board’s changes and expect the removal of content on Critical Race Theory, Black Queer Studies, Intersectionality, and other topics that violate our laws,” he said.

The Florida Department of Education said last week that if College Board amends the course to comply with state standards, it will reconsider it for approval.


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