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State appeals education amendment ruling

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office has quickly moved to appeal a Leon County circuit judge’s decision Monday that would block a proposed education constitutional amendment from going on the November ballot. Bondi’s office filed a notice that is an initial step in taking the case to the 1st District Court of Appeal. As is common, the notice does not detail the arguments the state will make in the appeal.

Circuit Judge John Cooper on Monday ruled that the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment would not adequately inform voters of its potential impact on the creation of charter schools.

The proposed amendment, placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, would impose eight-year term limits on school board members and would require the promotion of “civic literacy” in public schools. But a provision that drew a legal challenge from the League of Women Voters of Florida would allow the state to operate and control public schools “not established by the school board,” wording that opponents said would lead to the expansion of charter schools.

Cooper issued a 12-page ruling that said the measure, known as Amendment 8, should not go on the Nov. 6 ballot. “The failure to use the term voters would understand, ‘charter schools,’ as well as the use of a phrase that has no established meaning under Florida law, fails to inform voters of the chief purpose and effect of this proposal,” Cooper wrote.