Florida's Largest Teacher Union Files a Lawsuit Challenging School Reopening Order

A cafeteria worker pushes a cart full of food to distribute a free lunch to the students and community at Dillard High School amid the coronavirus outbreak and school closings on March 16, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

A cafeteria worker pushes a cart full of food to distribute a free lunch to the students and community at Dillard High School amid the coronavirus outbreak and school closings on March 16, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. AP Photo


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STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Nursing home trade group calls current rise in cases "a category five-level emergency" ... California AG to investigate evidence destruction in police shooting case ... Atlanta mayor says governor trying to stop her from talking to the media.

Florida’s biggest teachers union filed a lawsuit on Monday against the state, saying the current surge in coronavirus cases makes Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to reopen schools next month irresponsible. The union accused the governor and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, who issued an order on July 6 saying schools should open, of violating a provision of the state’s constitution that requires public schools to be "safe and secure." “If you do this wrong, the school becomes the germ factory,” said National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García. Corcoran lambasted the lawsuit, saying the order didn’t require “any new directives regarding the requirements of schools to be open, it simply created new innovative options for families to have the CHOICE to decide what works best for the health and safety of their student and family.” While some school districts have determined the order requires them to open in order to get full funding, Corcoran said it actually provides flexibility. Florida has become a major epicenter of the highly contagious respiratory illness, with 360,000 COVID-19 cases as of Monday. [Tampa Bay Times; NBC News]

NURSING HOME CRISIS | The number of residents and staff infected with the coronavirus at elder care facilities in Florida has more than doubled in recent weeks as the state has been dealing with an overall surge in cases. A trade group for nonprofit nursing homes says that the facilities need help. Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, which represents 5,000 nonprofit nursing homes and assisted living facilities, described the situation as "a category five-level emergency bearing down on millions of older adults in Florida and across the United States." She added: "We need real solutions now, not a patchwork of policies that allow the pandemic to grow more deadly and dangerous.” Older people can be especially vulnerable to the potentially lethal effects of the virus. [Miami Herald]

EVIDENCE INVESTIGATION | California Attorney General Xavier Becerra's office will investigate alleged evidence destruction in a case involving a police officer in Vallejo, California who shot and killed a man on June 2. The officer shot the man from inside a moving patrol vehicle, but the bullet-riddled windshield from the car was destroyed instead of submitted into evidence. Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said that he was “deeply disappointed” and that it is a priority for the department to “conduct a thorough investigation and provide the transparency that our community expects and deserves.” [CBS San Francisco]

GEORGIA MASKS | As part of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over her executive orders requiring mask usage, the governor is also requesting a court injunction “to restrain Mayor Bottoms from issuing press releases or making statement to the press” that she has the authority to impose restrictions in response to the pandemic. “Far more have sacrificed too much more for me to be silent,” Bottoms responded. [WSBTV]

DAILY RECORD | In announcing a new daily record of coronavirus cases on Sunday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said that the 979 new cases should be a “wake-up call” for people to take wearing masks and social distancing seriously. “I have faith and I have trust in the people of Kentucky,” Beshear said. “But today and in the days ahead we’ve got to do a whole lot better. We’re going to have to take some more action.” [Associated Press]

Senior Reporter Bill Lucia contributed to this report.

Laura Maggi is the managing editor at Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.

NEXT STORY: State Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Reimburse Restaurants for Costs of Stalled Reopening