4th DCA Decision on Student Transportation to Charter Schools
The 4th DCA almost slid a decision by us that we had been waiting to see: the Appeal from the ALJ’s order in the St. Lucie Case charter school case. St. Lucie ALJ Charter Ruling. Oral argument had been set in this case and then rescheduled, and the Court disposed of oral argument and entered a Per Curiam Affirmed PCA on May 4th. So, the ALJ ruling has now been affirmed, and it is unlikely that a motion for rehearing or a written opinion will be granted.
This makes the ruling and analysis by the ALJ all the more important, since this was one of the first cases to explore to what extent a school district could adopt and attempt to enforce a local policy in conflict with the Charter school statute.
the nature of the dispute was
[W]hether the School Board can require Renaissance Charter School at Tradition to offer regular school bus transportation, to and from the school, for all students residing more than two miles from the school. . . .
Some good excerpts from the case are below:
[T]he School Board interprets Florida law and its
adopted School Board Policies 3.90 and 8.31 to require that all existing and future charter schools within the county provide regular school bus transportation for all students residing more than two miles from the charter school. . . .
Renaissance Charter School at Tradition has entered into a written agreement with parents of enrolled students, whereby the parents have expressly agreed to be responsible for the transportation of their children to and from school. These agreements are consistent with, and contemplated by, the plain and unambiguous language of section 1002.33(20)(c). . . .
The Legislature specifically recognized that charter schools should have greater flexibility than traditional public schools. Parents choose to send their children to charter schools, knowing full-well that they may reside more than two miles from the charter school, and that their traditional public school may be located much closer to their residence than the charter school. . . .
The undersigned concludes, as matter of law, that School Board Policy 3.90(11) is an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority because it modifies and contravenes the charter school statute, specifically sections 1002.33(20)(c), 1002.33(6)(h), and 1002.33(5)(b)1.d.