The largest teachers’ union in Florida filed a lawsuit Monday against Gov. Ron DeSantis over his administration’s push to fully reopen all public schools next month — even as coronavirus cases in the state are spiking.
The Florida Education Association (FEA) accused DeSantis and other state officials of violating a state constitutional mandate to keep public schools “safe and secure.” The union asked a state court in Miami to halt the governor’s reopening edict, according to a copy of the suit obtained by NBC News.
The lawsuit, filed in circuit court, names several defendants: DeSantis, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida State Board of Education. The legal filing is sure to escalate a nationwide political debate over school reopenings amid the pandemic.
“Gov. DeSantis needs a reality check, and we are attempting to provide one,” FEA President Fedrick Ingram said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The governor needs to accept the reality of the situation here in Florida, where the virus is surging out of control.”
Florida is grappling with a significant surge in coronavirus cases, reporting upwards of 10,000 new cases on Monday alone. DeSantis was heckled by protesters during a news conference in Orlando on Monday afternoon, with some demonstrators shouting, “Shame on you!”
DeSantis, a first-term Republican, did not immediately respond to a request for comment through his press office.
Corcoran issued an emergency order earlier this month in which he said schools were “not just the site of academic learning” but also key places for “nutrition, socialization, counseling and extracurricular activities.” He said reopening schools was crucial in terms of “Florida hitting its full economic stride.”
The order, which applies to the fall academic semester, requires schools to open at least five days a week for all students, subject to guidance from public health officials. It came after DeSantis recommended all Florida schools reopen at full capacity. He argued that if they remained closed, parents would not be able to return to work.
Here’s an overview of other coronavirus-related developments making headlines Monday:
- The coronavirus vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is safe and shows signs of inducing an immune response, according to early clinical trial results published Monday in the medical journal The Lancet. NBC News’ Erika Edwards, Sara G. Miller and Keir Simmons have more details here.
- President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders met on Monday to map out their priorities for another round of federal coronavirus aid, which will decide the future of increased unemployment payments and aid to schools reopening in the fall. NBC News’ Rebecca Shabad, Kasie Hunt and Julie Tsirkin covered the meeting.
- In other Washington news, Trump said Monday he will resume doing regular coronavirus briefings as the White House struggles to settle on a message — and a role for him amid a surge in cases across the country, NBC News’ Shannon Pettypiece reports.
- The release of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” a mind-bending espionage thriller, has been postponed indefinitely after being delayed twice, according to news reports. The film was seen as a bellwether for Hollywood’s attempts to revive theatrical moviegoing and begin a financial rebound.