Appeals court dismisses Florida school-funding lawsuit

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida appeals court on Wednesday shot down a lawsuit over public school funding, saying it raises “political questions” that cannot be answered by judges.

For eight years, education groups and parents from two counties have pursued a lawsuit that contends a lack of funding for Florida’s schools has been damaging to minorities and students from poor families. The lawsuit has maintained that state legislators were flouting a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1998.

But in its ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeal maintained that the state constitution did not contain a way for judges to determine if Florida had violated its “paramount duty” to provide for a “high quality system of free public schools.”

Chief Judge Brad Thomas, who was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush, wrote in the ruling that “in a republican form of government founded on democratic rule, it must be the elected representatives and executives who make the difficult and profound decisions regarding how our children are to be educated.”

Jodi Siegel, a lawyer representing the groups that filed the lawsuit, blasted the ruling.

“By holding that the case presents a ‘political question,’ the court essentially has allowed the Legislature absolute freedom with no accountability,” Siegel wrote in an email.