Orange County

Thousands of Florida teachers may receive money from class-action lawsuit

ORLANDO, Fla. – The legal fight over a controversial teacher bonus in Florida may soon come to an end.

Thousands of minority teachers could now receive money as part of a settlement from a class-action lawsuit against the state.

Several factors will determine how much they receive, includes how many teachers file claims.

Records indicate roughly 33,000 black and Hispanic teachers could be eligible.

Part of the Best and Brightest bonus is based on a teacher's SAT or ACT score.

That requirement was not only controversial but became the main focus of the class-action lawsuit filed against the state.

“There were certainly teachers who, because of age, may not have taken the SAT or you couldn't get their SAT scores because it had been so long ago,” said Andrew Spar, vice president of the Florida Education Association. “And there were others who were also disadvantaged by this program, which is why we're glad to see lawmakers taking a step to get rid of this.”

The Florida Education Association claimed the bonus discriminated against black and Hispanic teachers.

“If they qualify, based on the evaluation, and the SAT scores kept them from getting it, they will now qualify for a portion of this settlement,” Spar said.

The settlement totals more than $15 million.

Last week, notices were sent out to minority teachers who may be eligible.

The ones who were rated highly effective but didn't get the bonus will have to file a claim to get part of the settlement.

How much they get will depend on a formula, as well as how many eligible teachers file a claim and how much is needed to cover legal expenses.

The state has denied the discrimination allegations, and a judge still needs to give final approval for the settlement.

It is also unclear when teachers might receive this money.

The bonus is still around, but lawmakers made changes this year and dropped the test requirement.

Michael Lopardi

Michael Lopardi

Michael Lopardi joined Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter in April 2015.