Manatee County parents who want to sue the Florida Department of Education over its third-grade retention policies are holding a car wash at the Shake Station in Ellenton to help raise funds to cover the initial court costs.
“Despite decades of research findings that the practice of third grade retention is damaging and costly, the State of Florida is one of only sixteen states, which continue such a harmful, misguided and fiscally irresponsible practice,” Opt Out Manatee organizer Amy Lee wrote in an email to school board. “The goal is to have the statute, which allows third grade retention, found unconstitutional and unenforceable. The implications of a positive outcome from this case are significant and far-reaching.”
The Manatee group is part of a larger group across the state that’s working to promote the Opt Out movement and make changes throughout the state. The Opt Out Florida Network has set up a GoFundMe page where people can donate money online, saying initial costs will be $17,000.
Opt Out has not filed a lawsuit yet against the state.
Earlier this spring, the school district and parents tussled over how to handle students who had no test score, because they “opted out” of the state-mandated tests. The district initially said students who did not take the test had to be retained and repeat third grade based on state statute. Ultimately, after the state clarified its position — maintaining students must take the test but the ultimate responsibility to promote or retain was a district-level decision — the district moved forward using other methods to promote students to the fourth grade.
The car wash is planned to run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Shake Station, 4219 U.S. 301 N in Ellenton.