The Constitution guarantees that all students have a right to equality in education. Unfortunately, several school districts in the state of Florida have infringed on this right through alternative placement programs, without providing students their right to due process.
In December 2017, the First District Court of Appeal issued a momentous opinion ruling that a school’s involuntary transfer of a misbehaving student to a virtual or alternative school must provide the procedural safeguards in the Florida Administrative Procedures Act.
This ruling affects the roughly 7,000 students a year that are alternatively placed as discipline. To learn more about how this ruling will effect your school district click below for an interactive map.
We’ve found that the practice varies widely across the state, from districts not using the practice at all to others using to push hundreds of students out of their regular schools. The most frequent users included Jefferson, Jackson and Hardee districts, which stood out at rates exceeding 60 alternative placements per 1,000 students. Because this practice is not well defined, it may look different in these smaller counties. Other more frequent users included Lee, Escambia, Okaloosa and Clay districts.
This ruling affects the roughly 7,000 students a year that are alternatively placed as discipline.
You’ll also notice that like most forms of exclusionary discipline, this practice has disproportionately impacted youth of color – statewide black students were 2.5 times as likely to be subjected to alternative placement. The largest racial disparities were in Leon and Sarasota districts, which were 12.5 times and 8.6 times as likely to alternatively place black students as white students, respectively. Use the race filter to see what alternative placement looks like across the state for minority students. Select your county to see how your local school district is using the practice.
- Read our letter to school districts
- Read our letter to the Florida Department of Education.
- Press release: ACLU of Florida To Public School Districts: Students Transferred To Alternative Schools Have A Right To Due Process
- Read our blog post: "Schools must be certain before denying education"
S.J. v. Thomas, 233 So. 3d 490 (Fla. 1st DCA 2017), available at Google Scholar.
- View the complaint.