Jacksonville attorney considering legal challenge to new Florida African American history standards

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s new controversial African American history standards could soon be challenged in court.


It’s the latest in the controversy surrounding Florida’s standards, which were adopted last week.

“I don’t know that the Department of Education can legally rewrite history,” said Jacksonville attorney Shannon Schott.

Schott said she’s in the very early stages of getting a legal challenge together and is currently looking for teachers, parents and students to sign onto a class action lawsuit.

She believes the new standards could violate students’ 14th Amendment rights.

“Someone has to just kind of stand up and say enough is enough and if this is illegal, we need to know and we need to take action,” said Schott.

The flashpoint cited by critics of the new standards, including Vice President Kamala Harris, is a line reading, “Instruction includes how slaves developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit”.

A statement released by two members of the workgroup that developed the standards offered examples intended to defend that line.

“Florida students deserve to learn how slaves took advantage of whatever circumstances they were in to benefit themselves and the community of African descendants,” said Dr. William Allen and Dr. Frances Presley Rice.

But those examples include many individuals who were never enslaved, most glaringly Betty Washington Lewis, the white sister of President George Washington.

“It is basically making our argument,” said State Representative Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville).

Nixon argued the inaccuracies in the statement call into question the accuracy of the standards themselves.

“They are basically just pushing propaganda to our students,” said Nixon.

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On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis appeared to try and separate himself from the controversy.

“I didn’t do it. I wasn’t involved in it,” said DeSantis in response to a question about the standards during a press conference in Utah’s State Capitol Friday.

But Nixon argued the buck stops with the Governor.

“He always tries to act as though he’s oblivious to what he’s said and what he’s done, but the truth of the matter is he appointed the head of the DOE,” said Nixon.

Action News Jax reached out to the Florida Department of Education for comment on the inaccuracies included in the workgroup members’ statement, but did not receive a response in time for this story’s publication.

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