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Palm Beach board challenges charter school law

The Palm Beach County School Board has taken a first step in asking the Florida Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a law that allows the State Board of Education to overturn local denials of charter-school applications.

The Palm Beach board is challenging a January ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal that upheld the law, according to a notice posted Wednesday on the Supreme Court website.

The issue stems from an application by Florida Charter Educational Foundation, Inc., and South Palm Beach Charter School to open a charter school.

The Palm Beach County School Board denied the application on grounds including that the proposal lacked "innovative learning methods," the appeals-court ruling said.

The applicants appealed the Palm Beach board's decision, and the state's Charter School Appeal Commission --- which makes recommendations to the State Board of Education --- said the charter school should be approved.

The State Board of Education subsequently issued an order reversing the county's denial of the charter-school application.

The Palm Beach board argued at the appeals court that the law allowing the State Board of Education to take such actions infringes on the power of local school boards to decide on the creation of charter schools, which are public schools typically run by private entities.

The notice filed with the Supreme Court does not detail the Palm Beach board's arguments, though it asks justices to review the appeals-court decision.

“The nature of the decision is a decision of a district court of appeal that expressly declares valid a state statute, expressly construes a provision of the state Constitution, and expressly affects school boards as a class of constitutional officers,” the notice said.