Florida Phoenix by Danielle J. Brown
May 27, 2020
Ten groups discussing how to best reopen Florida’s K-12 schools and colleges were closed to the press and public on Tuesday, raising questions about transparency as families try to manage a new academic year during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Florida Phoenix got a notice from the Florida Education Association, collaborating with the United Faculty of Florida, about forming committees and discussing the logistics of how to safely reopen Florida schools.
One committee covers K-12 education and the other, higher education. Each committee is divided into five subcommittees to highlight different goals of safely reopening schools in Florida.
However, the press was invited to attend only the first and third meetings, on May 21 and May 29, via Zoom.
The second meeting, held on Tuesday, was closed to the press and the public. Each subcommittee met for their own meetings.
A FEA spokesperson responded in an email to the Florida Phoenix that “the logistics of the small-group format via Zoom made us decide to not open today’s (Tuesday) sessions for live coverage.”
The email noted that because those meetings were “fact-finding” meetings, they’re not subject to Florida’s “Sunshine” laws. Those open meetings and public records laws are intended to insure transparency in government.
“We have opened up as much of the process as seemed feasible. We are understanding that not all must be open, given legal advice…,” according to FEA.