Leon judge vacates stay in school reopening lawsuit, hands control over opening to locals

James Call USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida Capital Bureau.Published 2:23 PM EDT Aug 27, 2020Leon County Circuit Judg

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Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson has vacated a stay in the Florida Education lawsuit against the state on reopening public schools. Thursday’s ruling places the decision on when to return to the classroom back in the hands of local school districts. 

The FEA filed suit against Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran over an emergency order to open all schools for at least five days a week by the end of the month. 

More: Judge strikes down Florida's schools reopening order as unconstitutional; state appeals

The teachers’ union argued the order violated the state Constitution provision for the local control of schools and a mandate for a safe public school system. 

When Dodson ruled in the teachers' favor, the state immediately filed an appeal. That triggered an automatic stay, which Dodson lifted Thursday. 

The attorney for the FEA, which represents teachers and school staff, called the decision a significant development in the case.

“We are pleased with the fact that Judge Dodson carefully considered all the evidence presented to him and found that the Commissioner of Education had acted improperly and unconstitutionally,” said Ron Meyer, an attorney for the FEA. 

Meyer expects the state to file an appeal to negate Thursday’s ruling and reinstate a hold on Dodson’s original decision to invalidate the emergency order. 

James Call is a member of the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida Capital Bureau. He can be reached at jcall@tallahassee.com. Follow on him Twitter: @CallTallahassee

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