Orange County teacher, mom join teacher’s union to fight reopening of schools

Court case against Gov. Ron DeSantis' emergency order proceeds

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A grassroots lawsuit filed by an Orange County teacher and another concerned mom has now been consolidated with the state’s largest teachers union, The Florida Education Association, in the battle to stop brick-and-mortar schools from reopening as ordered by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s emergency order.

The attorneys for both sides joined together Thursday for a virtual meeting to discuss the next steps in the court case, many of which have to happen before schools reopen face-to-face in Orange County on Aug. 21.

“We don’t have time to dally here,” said attorney Ron Meyer, representing all of the plaintiffs. “Teachers want to go back to school, but they aren’t dying to go back to school.”

Jacob Stuart Jr. and Billy Wieland are both attorneys representing Southwest Middle School teacher Kathryn Hammond and concerned mom and nurse Monique Bellefleur. They, along with the FEA, have filed for an emergency injunction that would prevent schools from physically reopening while case continues on in court.

“The injunctive relief would mean the judge would enter an order prohibiting all schools in the state of Florida from opening,” Stuart said. “I imagine that the governor’s office will appeal that immediately.”

The attorneys want schools to reopen, just virtually.

That injunction hearing is set for Tuesday but before that happens, the attorney’s representing all of the defendants, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, Corocoran and others, were hoping to dismiss the lawsuits all together. A judge, however, denied the state’s motion to dismiss. The next hearing will be held Wednesday morning.