A left-wing watchdog organization sued Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration on Thursday for allegedly withholding records relating to the decision to reject the AP African American Studies course.
American Oversight filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Education claiming the government agency is allegedly not responding to eight public records requests for the communications between state agencies, DeSantis’ office and outside parties discussing the decision to reject an AP African American Studies course because it lacked “educational value and historical accuracy.” The lawsuit comes after DeSantis rejected the college-level course because it violated state law against the teaching of CRT. (RELATED: DeSantis Admin Releases ‘Graphic’ Video Detailing ‘Pornographic’ Books Found In Public Schools)
“The DeSantis administration’s efforts to stifle classroom discussion and rewrite history are a grave threat to the education and well-being of hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, and parents in Florida,” Heather Sawyer, American Oversight Executive Director, said in a press release. “The Department of Education’s pattern of delayed responses to public records requests denies the public the urgent information it needs about how these suppressive measures are being crafted and implemented and about what powerful interests may be behind them, especially as they gain traction in Florida and states across the country.”
American Oversight is an organization which submits public records requests aimed largely at Republican administrations, according to Influence Watch. The organization has deemed itself to be “the top Freedom of Information Act litigator investigating the Trump administration” after it submitted more than 1000 public records requests and 56 lawsuits into the administration.
Approximately 11 of the 17 staffers and three board members for the organization have previously worked for Democratic officials and campaigns, Influence Watch reported.
In January, the Florida Department of Education rejected an AP African American Studies course, created by the College Board, the organization which creates college-level courses for school districts, because it included chapters on “queer theory” and contained tenets of CRT. The College Board modified the course removing sections on CRT theorists and “black queer studies” following the action by the DeSantis administration.
CRT holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.
In April 2022, the state Department of Education rejected 41% of math textbooks because they referenced CRT and “the unsolicited addition of SEL in mathematics.” SEL has been criticized as being a tenet of CRT as it focuses on teaching students social skills for their emotional well-being.
Several of the public records requests seeking communications with parental rights education groups such as Moms for Liberty, Parents Defending Education and the Heritage Foundation were submitted more than 10 months ago, with the most recent being in February 2023, the lawsuit alleged. In response to the requests, the state education department has allegedly “unlawfully refused access to public records concerning the current administration’s extensive and fast-moving changes to public education in Florida.”
“American Oversight finds it necessary for the court to intervene and disrupt this pattern of lengthy response delays, especially given the public’s great interest in understanding what is going on behind the scenes of such dramatic and dangerous changes,” the press release stated.
The Florida Department of Education and American Oversight did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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