State denies Orange County Public Schools waiver request for reopening brick and mortar schools

Video: State denies Orange County Public Schools waiver request for reopening brick and mortar schools

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The state of Florida sent a letter to Orange County Public Schools denying the district's request for a waiver to reopen brick-and-mortar schools next month.

OCPS sent a letter to the Florida Department of Education requesting a waiver requesting to still get full funding if COVID-19 data didn't improve locally, and board members thought it was unsafe to reopen brick-and-mortar schools.

Attorneys for the department wrote in their response that "the day-to-day decision to open or close a school must always rest locally with the board or executive." The letter called the waiver request "unnecessary."

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Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said districts will not get full funding if parents don't have a face-to-face option in August.

Orange County School Board members voiced frustration last week over the emergency order.

“There’s a manipulation on social media and based on press conferences saying we have the authority when we don’t have that authority,” School Board member Johanna López said.

Officials said the district is facing a 20-25% drop in funding per student enrolled in LaunchED at Home if classrooms aren't open.

This news from the state comes the same day the Orange County teachers union filed a lawsuit against the district. The union said it doesn’t think the district will be able to safely open schools in August.

The union wants a judge to delay face-to-face learning until the district can prove it can reopen safely.