Contact: Charles Siler
MEDIA ADVISORY: SPECIAL NEEDS PARENTS TO UNION: OUR CHILDREN AREN'T "COLLATERAL CASUALTY"
FLORIDA FAMILIES FIGHT BACK AGAINST SPECIAL-INTEREST UNION ATTACKING SCHOOL CHOICE
Event: News conference featuring families and attorneys at the time of filing motion to intervene in FAASSE v. SCOTT case
Location: Florida Press Center, 336 E. College Ave., Tallahassee, FL 32301
Participants: Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute Vice President for Litigation; John & Mary Kurnik, Julie Kleffel, Melissa Ward, and Ashli McCall, all special needs families opposing the FEA; Former Sen. Alfred Lawson, Jr.; Local Counsel Gregory Munson of Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A.; Allison Aubuchon, Foundation for Excellence in Education Deputy Communications Director
Time: 11:00 am, Thursday, July 31
Tallahassee, FL— Six Florida families with special needs children are standing up to the state’s largest teachers’ union, and today they are asking a judge to let them defend a scholarship program for students with educational disabilities from a lawsuit brought by the union.
The Florida Education Association has sued the state to stop the implementation of Florida’s Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts (PLSA) and other education reforms, while the union’s attorney, Ron Meyer, derided the scholarship program as “a collateral casualty” of the lawsuit.
“All I can say is wow, I don’t feel like collateral damage, I don’t feel like my son is collateral damage,” said Ashli McCall, a certified teacher in Florida who’s son Emmil is autistic. “I feel like we’re people. And we’re precious and we matter. Is that wrong? That’s really hurtful and really infuriating...If we’re not convenient to their cause then we just don’t matter. We matter.”
The plaintiff in the lawsuit against Florida's newest school choice program is high school civics teacher Tom Faasse, a union member and political activist who told reporters earlier this month that he would use this lawsuit as a teachable moment for his students, irrespective of the needs of Florida special needs families.
In sharp contrast, Florida lawmakers agreed that special needs families matter, creating opportunities for more than 1,800 special needs students to access PLSAs in this year’s budget. Over 90 percent of parents who have been using a comparable program in Arizona have reported high levels of satisfaction with the program, and now Florida families can share in the flexibility PLSAs offer.
The families are represented by the Goldwater Institute, which has defended similar school choice programs nationwide. They will speak out against the Florida Education Association Thursday at a press conference at the Florida Press Center in Tallahassee.
“These children deserve high-quality educational opportunities that are customized to suit their unique needs, and we will stand up with their families and defend these scholarships from the very people who have failed these students in the public schools,” said Goldwater's Vice President for Litigation Clint Bolick. “We will not allow these children to simply be left behind as the ‘collateral casualties’ in the aftermath of ends-justifies-the-means legal action."
To schedule an interview with Clint Bolick or the families opposing the FEA’s actions, please contact Charles Siler with the Goldwater Institute at (202) 487-8652 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Goldwater Institute has an in-house VideoLink studio for rapid cable hook-up if needed.