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Florida's largest teachers' union victory on reopening schools short-lived as judge reinstates emergency stay

A written order offering more insight into the ruling is to come.
Credit: File photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A district court of appeals has reinstated an automatic stay in the battle between Florida's largest teachers' union and the state regarding school reopening plans, making Thursday's second court victory for the teachers' union short-lived.

On Monday, a judge granted the Florida Education Association a temporary injunction against Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran's emergency order to reopen classrooms for in-person learning.

But, when the state appealed that decision, a stay was automatically put in place, meaning the judge's order was essentially on hold until an appeals court heard the case. Then, on Thursday, Circuit Judge Charles Dodson agreed to lift the automatic stay, siding with the teachers' union again and letting his order stand until an appeal was heard.

Then, on Friday, an appeals court reversed that decision, putting the automatic stay back in place after the legal team for Corcoran and Gov. Ron DeSantis filed their own motion to reinstate it. In short: the state and teachers' union have landed right back where they started the week.

So what does that mean? A court sided with the union this week, removing some language from the state's emergency order and giving local districts more control to make their own health and safety decisions about reopening during the pandemic without the risk of losing state funding. But, since the state is appealing that decision, the order isn't in effect -- at least for now. Now, it will be up to an appeals court to decide whether the first judge's decision gets to stand.

A written order offering more insight into Friday's ruling to reinstate the stay is to come. The Florida Department of Education said an accelerated briefing schedule for the case has also been set. 

Corcoran tweeted about the news saying, "Great news for Florida’s education family, the 1st DCA reinstated the stay. Win for Florida’s parents to choose what education works best for their students!" 

The FEA has been suing Corcoran and DeSantis over the emergency order issued in July that mandated all schools open their doors by the end of August. The lawsuit aimed to stop the state from forcing districts to reopen physical classrooms five days a week if doing so felt unsafe in their areas.

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