The lawsuit, which was filed nearly a decade ago by parents, students and advocacy groups, claimed the state wasn’t properly funding schools as outlined in a 1998 amendment approved by voters, which makes it the state’s “paramount duty to make adequate provisions for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education.”
The court narrowly rejected the claim with a 4-3 decision on several factors. In addition to the plaintiffs failing to show what level and manner the schools should be funded, the court declined to settle a matter it felt should fall under those of the state’s legislature.
Three justices dissented, stating, “The majority of this Court eviscerates article IX, section 1, of the Florida Constitution, contrary to the clear intent of the voters, and abdicates its responsibility to interpret this critical provision and construe the terms ‘uniform,’ ‘efficient,’ and ‘high quality,’ enshrined in that provision.” Additionally, the dissent calls attention to the disparity in education for minority students and pointed to statistics that show strong correlation between test scores and school funding. The dissent also stated,
“With its decision today, the majority of this Court fails to provide any judicial remedy for the students who are at the center of this lawsuit—AfricanAmerican students, Hispanic students, economically disadvantaged students, and students who attend school in poorer school districts or attend persistently lowperforming schools. The majority of this Court eviscerates article IX, section 1, of the Florida Constitution, contrary to the clear intent of the voters, and abdicates its responsibility to interpret this critical provision and construe the terms “uniform,” “efficient,” and “high quality,” enshrined in that provision. Today, even more emphatically than before the 1998 amendment to article IX, section 1, I echo the words of Justice Anstead, joined by Justices Kogan and Shaw: “By [the Court’s] action today, we have reduced to empty words a constitutional promise to provide an adequate educational system for our children.” Coalition for Adequacy & Fairness in Sch. Funding, Inc. v. Chiles, 680 So. 2d 400, 410 (Fla. 1996) (Anstead, J., dissenting). “