MIAMI, FLORIDA — The Miami-Dade chapter of County Citizens Defending Freedom (CCDF) is suing the board of Miami-Dade County Public Schools for allegedly violating the Florida Sunshine Law requiring governmental transparency.
County Citizens Defending Freedom is an organization that advocates for the protection of traditional American principles with an emphasis on civic engagement on the local level from ordinary citizens. According to their website, CCDF currently has more than a dozen chapters in Florida.
The organization claims that an unelected committee tasked with reviewing textbooks for the district’s sex ed curriculum “exercised substantial governmental decision-making authority during meetings closed to the public.”
The complaint, filed on October 31, claims that the “District Instructional Materials Review Committee (DIMRC)” held at least two closed-door meetings that were subject to Sunshine Law, and thus should have been open to the public.
According to CCDF’s Executive Summary document, DIMRC twice conducted “private meetings” to review instructional materials related to sex ed. The school district allegedly never made the public aware of these meetings.
Florida statute 1006.28 states that “Meetings of committees convened for the purpose of ranking, eliminating, or selecting instructional materials for recommendation to the district school board must be noticed and open to the public.”
“UNREASONABLE PUBLIC NOTICE”
In addition to the two private meetings, the complaint argues that the subsequent committee meetings “featured lackluster and unreasonable public notice and collected sub-standard meeting minutes.”
The school district reportedly announced meetings via a calendar on the district’s website and the Daily Business Review, rather than utilizing a larger media outlet such as the Miami Herald. For comparison, the Daily Business review has fewer than 7,000 followers on Twitter, while the Miami Herald has more than half a million.
Although the Board ultimately voted to adopt the textbooks in question, it relied upon the committee’s recommendation. By doing so, CCDF argues the Board “unlawfully delegated and abdicated its duty and responsibilities for the selection of instructional materials.”
The complaint introduction concludes: “Ultimately, Plaintiffs want to shine some bright Florida Sunshine on the hidden machinations of this school board and those acting under its authority.”
According to a press release, CCDF “acted in good faith to resolve the issue in an amicable manner without the need for legal action,” prior to filing the lawsuit.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools declined to comment, citing pending litigation.