Citing low high school graduation rates in Palm Beach County, Fla., the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Florida filed a class action lawsuit last week against the state, arguing that it has failed to ensure that all students receive a high-quality education as required under the state constitution.
The lawsuit says that at least a third, and possibly as many as half, of the pupils in the 170,000-student district do not graduate on time with a regular diploma. It says that result is well below both state and national averages.
In particular, the lawsuit, filed Nov. 5 in a state circuit court in Palm Beach County, claims the state has failed to meet its constitutional obligation that all students receive a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality” free public education. A circuit court judge dismissed a similar lawsuit filed by the ACLU in March 2008 against local education officials in Palm Beach County, according to a press release from the ACLU. The judge did not rule on the merits of that case.
A spokesman for the Florida Department of Education said the state agency was reviewing the legal action, but had no further comment.
A version of this article appeared in the November 11, 2009 edition of Education Week as ACLU Sues Florida Over Low Rate of H.S. Graduation in One County