Lawsuit against state over education funding moves forward

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

The direction of Florida's education system will soon be in a judge's hands.

The Florida Supreme Court refused to block a pivotal lawsuit this week.

Some parent groups are accusing the Florida legislature of depriving children of their constitutional rights.

As the testing stakes in Florida schools increase and the funding decreases, some parent groups are saying enough.

"The taxpayers of this state, the children will finally have their day in court," said parent Kathleen Oropeza, with the group Fund Education Now.

Orange County public schools lost $250 million due to state budget cuts three years ago.

Some parents, students and advocacy groups from around Florida have filed suit against the state. Fund Education Now is one of the groups taking part in the lawsuit.

The claim is that the Florida legislature is not living up to its constitutional requirement to provide a high-quality public education system.

"The constitution says it is a fundamental value of the people of the state of Florida to fund a high-quality system of public schools. It is the law of the land. We contend that it is not adequately funding," said parent Linda Kobert, a member of Fund Education Now.

On Tuesday the Florida Supreme Court refused to block the suit. The case is expected to go to trial later this year.

Florida Senate Budget Chairman J.D. Alexander said the state has met its constitutional mandate.

"There are always advocates saying you should do more. I think we've done well to maintain funding in our education system across the board. Would we all like to do more? Sure," said Alexander.

The Orange County parents who spoke to WFTV said if the state does not pay for education now it will pay for prisons later.

"It sounds trite, but they are our future," said parent Christine Bramuch, a member of Fund Education Now.

Florida ranks near the bottom of the country when it comes to funding per student.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Florida provides nearly $9,000 per student. As a comparison, Washington, D.C., which provides the most money, provides nearly $19,000 per student.