WASHINGTON, DC — The NAACP and the Florida State Conference obtained a motion for a temporary injunction seeking to prevent defendants from forcing schools statewide to reopen unsafely without local COVID-19 conditions. The motion sought a declaration from the Court that forcing such statewide reopening of schools is a violation of Article IX, Section 1(a).
The Court found the defendants arbitrarily prioritized reopening schools statewide in August over the safety and health experts' advice. Since the Order failed to mention consideration of community transmission rates, varying ages of students, or proper precautions, the Court found plaintiffs had a substantial likelihood of success in procuring a judgment declaring that the Order is arbitrarily applied across Florida.
"The blatant disregard of Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida State Board of Education places teachers, parents, and most importantly the students in an unnecessary and dangerous predicament," said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. "With no end in sight to this pandemic, we must continue to take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves and those closest to us."
With this ruling, local school boards can make their safety determinations for reopening schools without financial penalty. The Court ruled that Richard Corcoran, Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education, emergency order was "unconstitutional to the extent that it arbitrarily disregards safety, denies local school boards decision making concerning reopening brick and mortar schools, and conditions funding on an approved reopening plan with a start date in August."
The NAACP and the Florida State Conference were joined by the Florida Education Association and several individual teachers and Florida students' parents. This ruling is a victory for the NAACP and the Florida State Conference, but it is also a victory for the students in Florida.
"COVID-19 is still present and wreaking havoc on communities across the country," said Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Florida State Conference, NAACP. "It is wholly irresponsible of the Governor and Commissioner to force students across the state to go back to school without assessing individual community needs as it relates to COVID-19."
ABOUT THE NAACP
Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. The NAACP is a c4 organization (contributions are not tax-deductible), and we have a partner c3 organization known as the NAACP Empowerment Programs (contributions are fully tax-deductible as allowed by the IRS).
NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund — also referred to as the NAACP-LDF was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but separated in 1957 to become a completely separate entity. It is recognized as the nation's first civil and human rights law organization and shares our commitment to equal rights.