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Protecting Educational Choice for Special-Needs Families

Faasse v. Scott

Case Status

Date Filed

July 30, 2014

Last Step

Goldwater Victory! Trial judge dismisses case.

Next Step

Case Overview

In May 2014, the Florida Legislature passed SB 850, which was a comprehensive education bill.  In part, the bill created the innovative Personal Learning Scholarship Account (PLSA) program.   The purpose of the PLSA Program is to empower parents of special needs children to direct educational funds toward a combination of programs and approved providers in order to address the unique and individualized needs of their children as each parent sees fit.  The Florida Education Association (FEA), through its member Tom Faasse, has filed suit challenging SB 850.  FEA claims that SB 850 violates the Florida Constitution’s “single subject” rule, which requires that every bill passed contain only one subject.  However, the subject of SB 850 is clearly education.

If FEA prevails in its suit, the PLSA program will be wiped off the books and many families will lose the opportunity give their special needs children the unique and specialized education they need to thrive as adults.  FEA’s attorney, Ron Meyer, has called the personalized learning accounts “a collateral casualty” in the lawsuit.  The Goldwater Institute has filed to join the State of Florida in opposing the lawsuit in order to protect the right of parents to direct the education of their special needs children.

Case Logistics

Julie & Faith Kleffel
In 2007 Julie lost her husband and the love of her life in an accident just four months after their daughter Faith was born. Faith, who has Down syndrome requires dedicated attention. Realizing that Faith’s public programs were not helping, Julie decided to home school Faith to ensure she got the attention she deserves. But as a single mom and sole provider, it’s difficult to provide Faith with everything she needs.

Mary & John Kurnik
Twelve-year-old John is diagnosed autistic and other disorders that make learning in a traditional classroom incredibly challenging. John’s parents, who are both members of the Florida Parent Educator Association, created an environment he can thrive in at home. But services to home school children are incredibly limited and John would greatly benefit from the opportunities and flexibility that PLSA’s provide, giving him access to speech, behavioral and other therapies.

Melissa & Ethan Ward
Ethan, now 8, is the third of four children for the Wards, and his life began early being born premature and underweight. At three, Ethan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The Wards would love to help get Ethan speech therapy, as he stutters, but the costs of his constant physical therapy and numerous surgery to improve his motor skills prevent that. With a PLSA, the Wards could get Ethan speech and occupational therapy, as well as additional tutoring to help him with his math, which is a struggle for him. The PLSA offers hope that Ethan can grow to be an independent young man.

Donna & Brandon Berman
Brandon is 16 and entering the 11th grade, but he’s completing his studies as a public school home bound student. That means he gets four hours of time with a teacher a week, despite his autism and congenital muscular dystrophy. Brandon also suffers from seizures, and the schools wouldn’t accommodate his service dog. Brandon’s PLSA would help him find a tutor who can dedicate more than four hours a week to learning, while also getting him the appropriate class materials for his disabilities.

Ashli & Emmil McCall
Emmil and his sister are lucky. Their mom is a certified teacher in the state of Florida, and after spending years in public classrooms, she decided to focus on her children’s education. Unfortunately, Emmil is autistic and she doesn’t have a background in special education. Due to financial constraints, the McCall family has to decide what services they can provide to Emmil, and medical services get priority over educational ones. With a PLSA, Ashli will be able to give Emmil a math tutor with tailored materials, along with behavioral and occupational therapies. A PLSA can help Emmil achieve his full potential.

Case Documents

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