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Judge orders Amendment 8 be removed from Florida ballot

Judge Cooper | Florida Channel screen grab

A Leon county judge ordered that Amendment 8, the amendment that would have created a pathway for the state to oversee charter schools and bypass local school boards, be removed from the ballot.

Judge John Cooper wrote in a summary judgement Monday morning that the amendment should be removed "because its ballot title and summary fail to comply with the accuracy requirement imposed by" the Florida Constitution.

In other words, the judge agreed with the plaintiff, the League of Women Voters, that the summary and title of the amendment did not properly convey to voters what the effect of this amendment would be.

This proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution was created by the Constitution Revision Commission, and in addition to the charter school provision, would also impose term limits on school board members and constitutionally require civics education in public schools.

In a hearing Friday, both parties indicated it was likely they would appeal if the judge did not rule in their favor.

League of Women Voters Florida president Patricia Brigham called Cooper's ruling a "terrific piece of news to wake up to on a Monday morning."

"It's a victory for the people of Florida," Brigham said. "That measure was meant to confuse voters. It did not show the intent was to take away home rule from the districts. ... The judge saw right through it."

Erika Donalds, a prominent school choice advocate and the CRC commissioner who proposed this amendment, called the ruling "disappointing" and driven by ideology, not the law.

"The group suing to remove Amendment 8 from the ballot fundamentally opposes empowering families to choose the education setting that best fits their child," she said. "Despite the bunk they've spread, I hope voters will be able to make their own decision in November. It is disgusting how many misrepresentations the opposition is willing to put forth to block student-centered choice options."

This story will be updated.