In May 2014, the Florida Legislature passed SB 850, which was a comprehensive education bill. In part, the bill created the innovative Personal Learning Scholarship Account (PLSA) program. The purpose of the PLSA Program is to empower parents of special needs children to direct educational funds toward a combination of programs and approved providers in order to address the unique and individualized needs of their children as each parent sees fit. The Florida Education Association (FEA), through its member Tom Faasse, has filed suit challenging SB 850. FEA claims that SB 850 violates the Florida Constitution's "single subject" rule, which requires that every bill passed contain only one subject. However, the subject of SB 850 is clearly education.
If FEA prevails in its suit, the PLSA program will be wiped off the books and many families will lose the opportunity give their special needs children the unique and specialized education they need to thrive as adults. FEA’s attorney, Ron Meyer, has called the personalized learning accounts "a collateral casualty" in the lawsuit. The Goldwater Institute has filed to join the State of Florida in opposing the lawsuit in order to protect the right of parents to direct the education of their special needs children.
Diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Julie's daughter Faith could be helped by Florida's recently passed Personal Learning Scholarship Account, giving her a better opportunity to succeed in the comfort of her own home.
Melissa's son Ethan has cerebral palsy, making physical things difficult to accomplish. With Florida's Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts, Ethan's family would have the resources to get him the therapy he needs, while saving money for the state.
Ashli's son Emmil has autism, making a traditional public school a difficult learning environment for him. However, this makes him eligible for Florida's new Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts, giving him the chance to receive therapies that would help his diagnosis. Yet, the FEA threatens to strike down this program, despite the large number of students it could help.
In The News
-Examiner: Florida's PLSA has joined Arizona's ESA (6/27/2014)
-The Daily Caller: Union Sues to Block School Vouchers for Disabled (7/16/2014)
-Miami Herald: Florida Teachers Union Files Legal Challenge To Expansion Law (7/16/2014)
-Florida Times-Union: Law Expanding School Vouchers Faces Teachers' Legal Challenge (7/16/2014)
-Orlando Sentinel: Special-needs Kids Will Soar with New Scholarship Money (7/17/2014)
-WCJB Gainesville: New Scholarships Allow Children with Disabilities to Personalize Their Education (7/17/2014)
-WEAR TV Pensacola: New Scholarships Available to Special Needs (7/17/2014)
-Headlines & Global News: School Vouchers for Disabled Students Blocked by Florida's Teachers Union Challenge (7/17/2014)
-Houston Chronicle: Scholarship for Students with Special Needs Now Available Through Step Up For Students Scholarship Program (7/17/2014)
-Florida Watchdog: Teachers Union Takes on Florida School Choice Law (7/18/2014)
-Sun-Sentinel: New Scholarships Available for Special Needs Students (7/21/2014)
-Education News: Scholarship for Florida Special Needs Students Debuts, with Criticism (7/23/2014)
-Tampa Bay Times: Florida's Newest Vouchers Prove Popular (7/24/2014)
-The Gainesville Sun: Lawsuit Challenges Scholarship Program (7/24/2014)
-Goldwater Institute: Special Needs Parents To Union: Our Children Aren't "Collateral Casualty" (7/31/2014)
-Cato Institute: Florida Parents Fight for Educational Choice (7/31/2014)
-WFSU: Families with Disabled Kids Fire Back Against Teacher's Union Lawsuit Over New Program (7/31/2014)
-Miami Herald: Families Say FEA's School Choice Lawsuit Will Hurt Special Needs Kids (7/31/2014)
-NPR: Families With Disabled Kids Fire Back Against Teacher's Union Lawsuit Over New Program (7/31/2014)
For more information, please contact Charles Siler with the Goldwater Institute at (202) 487-8652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.