students with disabilities

The Office of Governor Rick Scott /

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed three bills into law Thursday, the first round of the 2016 Legislative session. The smooth passage of the top priority bills could ease tensions at the State Capitol. /

This week saw a homerun for disability rights in the Florida Capitol. There are two bills heading to the Governor’s desk.

MGN Online

Plans to expand education options for people with disabilities passed the Senate Wednesday with a unanimous vote. The measures are a priority for Senate President Andy Gardiner, who was moved to tears at the bill’s passage.

LHatter / WFSU News

A lawsuit over a new program that grants personal learning accounts to students with disabilities has been tossed out by a trial judge.

The Florida Education Association, a teacher’s union, sued the Florida legislature over a new law expanding the state’s existing corporate tax scholarship program, which critics call school vouchers.  FEA attorney Ron Meyer argued the way the legislature adopted the expansion—by attaching it at the last minute to a more popular program that sets up financial accounts for disabled students—violated state law:

LHatter / WFSU News

Six Florida families with disabled children want to block a lawsuit challenging the state’s newest voucher program.  They say a move by the state teacher’s union to invalidate a broader bill on educational choice options, is bad policy.

Florida Senate

School choice opponents are lining up against a proposal giving students with disabilities additional funding. They say while the intent of the bill is noble, they fear it will lead to even greater segregation within Florida’s education system.

Florida lawmakers will address the issue of testing disabled students this session. The first such effort made its way onto a major committee bill Tuesday.

An amendment from Lakeland Republican Senator Kelly Stargel creates a permanent exemption from state standardized testing for students with the most severe disabilities, as long as a doctor and a superintendent agree. 

LHatter / WFSU News

While Florida legislative leaders remain largely opposed to big changes in the state’s school accountability program, there is momentum for small changes: at least for students with the most severe disabilities.

The Florida Department of Education has released its annual high school grade report and the number of school’s earning A’s has increased. 

The Board of Education adopted a rule keeping high school grades from falling more than a letter after districts complained about all of the changes to the grading formula. Seventy-eight percent of Florida High schools received A’s and B’s. The number of "A" school’s increased, and the number of D’s and F schools fell. Interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says she’s pleased with the report: