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The Bottom Line Right Up Front:
Hurdle #1: We have 2 days to help raise $1200 to get the plaintiffs to the Florida Supreme Court.
 There will be other hurdles to overcome, but they have to get over this one first. The families will cross the finish line when they prevail in court, but they’ve got to get to court. And they need YOUR help to do it. If you’d like to skip right to the donate section, scroll on down to “3 ways to donate”!

Nearly a whole school year has already passed. The parents would not allow their children to be retained and the children are either in private schools or homeschooling. The families are no longer fighting to protect their own children. This fight continues for the sake of ALL current and future third graders. Prevailing in this case will also help to chip away at both the “A+ Plan” and “school grades.”

Is there any other reason why the FLDOE and the 5 districts would have 30 (yes, thirty) attorneys working on this case against a single attorney for the plaintiffs?

Below are the key issues about the 3rd Grade Retention Lawsuit and why the families are now focused on getting their case to the Florida Supreme Court

(The chronology of this lawsuit are listed below)…

62 of the 67 Florida districts DID follow the law and promoted students by alternative assessments where it was appropriate – including a teacher-portfolio meeting state guidelines. Only the 5 districts in the lawsuit (Hernando, Orange, Osceola, Pasco and Seminole) are still insisting that in order to be promoted, they must have either a passing FSA score, or another test, which is what the parents refused, as was their right, under Florida Law.

WHAT IS AT STAKE NOW
Because the DCA ruled against plaintiffs on venue, they must now either –

a) go back to each of the 5 districts to get their case heard, or
b) ask Florida Supreme Court to overturn the ruling on venue so that the case can go back to Judge Gievers Court to be heard on the merits of the case.

If the DCA’s ruling on venue is allowed to stand, the implications go much farther than education – If individuals in multiple districts have a valid complaint against state policy, they would now be made to take it up with their local courts and would be refused the efficiency of joining each case to that of other plaintiffs experiencing the same situation in other districts.

Fragmenting the plaintiffs’ case and sending them to their local districts will break the case – AND THE DEFENSE KNOWS THIS. This could result in 5 different outcomes – which might not result in systemic change.

To date, the outstanding legal bill is in excess of $60,000. The attorney is only asking for her outstanding expenses to be covered – the $7,400 – in order for the plaintiffs to progress with the case to the Supreme Court of Florida so that the case can be heard.

From the TB Times Aug 26 article following Judge Gievers’ initial ruling FOR the plaintiffs, Judge’s ruling is a blow to Florida’s third-grade testing rules

“Gievers has yet to conduct a full trial on the parents’ over-arching complaint challenging the third-grade retention law.”

Check back for updates!

It is especially notable that SO MANY educators have donated (some regularly) to this cause. No contribution is too small. You can also help by sharing this post.

There are 3 ways to donate:
1) gofundme.com/StopGr3Retention
2) Paypal link on https://www.facebook.com/TheOptOutFloridaNetwork/
3) To avoid GoFundMe fees, you may send a check directly to the attorney for the Plaintiffs:

The Law Office of Andrea Flynn Mogensen, P.A.
200 South Washington Boulevard, Suite 7
Sarasota, FL 34236

Please note on your check: “Third Grade Florida Supreme Court” and please notify us at TheOptOutFLNetwork@gmail.com

Once we meet this urgent goal, please continue to give generously. There are already other hurdles (legal fees) still to clear.

Thank you VERY MUCH for your support! It is greatly appreciated.

_______________________________________
The Chronology (click on links to articles for details):
July 18 2016: Group seeks support to fight Florida’s third-grade retention law

Tampa Bay Times: 
“”Courageous parents have refused all further testing for purposes of promotion,” according to the Opt Out Florida Network, which is supporting the effort. “They are demanding that their children be promoted based on the work they did all year long, evidenced by satisfactory report cards or actual portfolios of their children’s work (which includes tests done in school) – a more thorough and rigorous evaluation than any single test could possibly be.”

The families have talked with lawyers, and are aiming to get the courts to find the retention law unconstitutional and unenforceable.

If successful, their effort could have widespread effect. Florida’s third-grade retention law has been replicated (in various forms in 15 other states) throughout the country as other states seek to hold schools accountable for student learning.”

Aug 10 2016: The suit is filed in Leon County, where the FLDOE is located.
Aug 2016: Parents file motion for emergency injunctive relief as school year began.
Aug 12 2017: Parents have their first “day in court” – Parents sue when third-grade honors students are not promoted to fourth grade
Aug 26 2016: Favorable outcomes – Judge blasts state, local schools in 3rd-grade retention case
Aug 26 2016:  Judge’s ruling is a blow to Florida’s third-grade testing rules
Aug 29 2016: Judge rules. Plaintiffs prevail, mostly – Judge issues mixed ruling on Florida’s third-grade retention law (Judge Gievers rules overwhelmingly for plaintiffs – orders districts to promote and to use portfolios as parents requested. Says they met minimum requirements for “participation” in testing.)
Aug 29 2016: And yet… Kids who defied Florida’s third-grade testing rules hit roadblocks as they return to school
Aug 30 2017: (Districts) appeal third-grade retention ruling
Sep 2 2016: Editorial: Hernando school district loses lawsuit, punishes kids

Sep 2, 2017: ABC7 Editorial (VIDEO): “Civil disobedience is democracy’s way of saying enough is enough.”
Dec 29 2016: Florida lawmaker files bill to clarify third-grade retention rules
Jan 7, 2017: DCA agree to hear oral arguments on venue.
Feb 7, 2017: District Court of Appeals hears oral arguments – where plaintiffs’ lawyer is prevented from arguing her case, having to contend with off-topic questions and statements from the bench.
Mar 7 2017: District Court of Appeals rules against parents for FLDOE and districts on venue – only.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The DCA ruling on venue does not overturn the merits of Judge Gievers’ ruling – but parents must now seek to overturn the DCA ruling on venue in the Florida Supreme Court… or take it up with their local school districts.

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