School Choice Law

Mr. Woodring has been involved in litigating school choice issues for the past 15 years, working on cases reaching both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court. School Choice Legal Topics remain one of the most important and heated areas of education law in Florida and around the Country. Because school choice has the potential to help many students and parents that are failed by traditional public schools, it grows more and more popular. Choice legal issues basically break down into three categories:

Charter Schools

Charter schools continue to rapidly expand, with over 600 charter schools now operating in Florida, and charters now operating in over 40 other states. Charter schools are public schools, held accountable for results, free from many, but not all of of the legal restrictions that accompany traditional public schools. All Florida Charter Schools are operated by not-for-profit boards separate from the local school district. Just recently, the Florida Legislature authorized virtual charter schools, so we now represent both bricks and mortar and virtual charter schools.

We provide legal counsel to many Charter Schools and Charter Management Organizations all over state of Florida. We provide legal assistance during the entire life of a charter, from helping to put together and defend a legally sufficient charter application, and defending charter applications that are denied by the school district in appeals before the Charter Appeal Review Commission and the State Board of Education, to to challenging school districts’ notices of intent to terminate before the Division of of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). Along the way we help finalize and negotiate charter contracts, and other contracts that the charter schools need with charter management organizations or other vendors, such as transportation vendors; deal with disputes that arise between school districts and charter schools over charter compliance or amendments; help with employment governance and ethical concerns; work with threatened action based on low grades or poor student performance, etc. We also provide general counsel services for charters or charter management companies.

Please check out our Florida Charter School Law page for more specific information if you operate or are thinking about starting a charter school,or a charter management organization, or are an an operator located in another state thinking about expanding to Florida,since there have been many recent changes to our Charter School Laws.

Scholarships or Vouchers

In addition to charter schools, there are scholarships or vouchers that allow students to attend the school of their parents choice, whether public or private. A Florida example of this is the McKay scholarship program, a program that allows students with disabilities that have an IEP under IDEA to attend a participating private school, or to switch to another public school. Another Florida example is the tax credit scholarship program, a program that allows students who would qualify for free or reduced lunch programs to obtain a scholarship to attend a participating private school. The Woodring Law Firm can handle matters concerning private schools participating in these voucher or tax credit programs, the scholarship funding organizations working with the tax credit programs, and the parents and students applying for scholarships. There are a number of statutory and rule requirements for eligibility and participation in these state scholarship programs.

Regular Public School Choice

And then there is the category of general public school choice, which broadly encompasses programs that allow students to choose other schools or programs for which they might not originally have been zoned. Some examples of these choices would be IB programs or magnet programs, or even the opportunity for students in some schools that do not make adequate yearly progress to attend other schools in the district that making adequate yearly progress, or even to attend schools in another school district.

We want to help parents and schools take advantage of every opportunity to find the right educational option for each student, whether that option is public, private or even one of the new virtual options.
School Choice Policy Support

Mr. Woodring, having spent more than a decade heavily engaged in school choice issues, can also provide strategic counsel and assistance for those in states other than Florida that are interested in legislatively or constitutionally implementing school choice programs, or defending the same once implemented. He has spoken to national audiences on school choice topics.

Please contact us if you have a school choice matter that you would like to discuss.