Charter school tax fight goes to Supreme Court
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school money
Charter schools want a slice of a new education tax.

A battle about whether charter schools are entitled to a cut of tax dollars that Palm Beach County voters approved in 2018 for more-traditional public schools has gone to the Florida Supreme Court.

The Palm Beach County School Board on Thursday filed a notice of taking the issue to the Supreme Court after a divided 4th District Court of Appeals sided with charter schools in February. As is common, the notice does not detail the school board’s arguments.

In a 7-4 ruling, the appeals court said wording in a 2018 referendum that excluded charter schools from receiving a share of increased property-tax revenues violated state law. The referendum asked voters to approve a tax increase for issues such as school safety and teacher pay, saying the money would be “dedicated for operational needs of non-charter district schools.”

Charter schools are public schools that are typically operated by private entities. After voters approved the ballot measure, two charter schools, Academy for Positive Learning and Palm Beach Maritime Academy, and two parents filed the lawsuit arguing that charter schools were entitled to part of the money.

The majority of the appeals court said charter schools could not be shut out of the voter-approved funding because of part of state law that said charter-school students “shall be funded as if they are in a basic program or a special program, the same as students enrolled in other public schools in the school district.”

The opinion also said that the wording in the ballot measure that prevented charter schools from receiving money was “severable” — essentially meaning that it can be disregarded — and that the rest of the referendum could remain in “full force and effect.”

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  • Nate

    May 21, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    Charter schools (public schools) will and shall win this fight.

  • Russ

    May 28, 2021 at 3:12 pm

    The School District of Palm Beach County recently made it a point to publicize that it does not discriminate and that it will be sure that appropriate measures will be taken to ensure equity. What a laugher! The School Board did just that with the passage of the discriminatory tax question at issue in this case. By overtly denying tax funds to Black children, Hispanic children, Disabled children, Asian children, White children, and other children who attend charter schools in PBC, they have discriminated. Yet they see nothing wrong with using tax dollars paid in part by parents of charter school children to fight the Appellate ruling. It’s like “after I rob you, I’ll use your money for my defense.” The real laughing matter is that the Board has stated that people knew what they were voting for…read the question yourself, read the District publicity on the vote, read the talking points to the community, and tell me that voters understood that they were asked to vote to deny tax dollars to children of parents who pay these taxes. Like the members of the School Board, I am “confident” that each and every voter read the question and understood they were discriminating against certain classes of students by denying equal access to tax dollars. Yes, Board members, it hurts me to say that you have failed Equity 101 in every respect and your hypocrisy is noted. Before you try to change the District with an equity statement (certainly a noble cause), why don’t you look at your own reflections and ask if this you have behaved equitably. Instead of fighting with charter schools, why don’t you see them as potential helpers in advancing student achievement. To achieve equity, you cannot foster discrimination and distrust.

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