May 14, 2013
The Honorable Tony Bennett
Florida Department of Education
Turlington Building, Suite 1514
325 West Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Dear Commissioner Bennett:
I am writing in response to Florida’s request to extend its approval of ESEA flexibility through the end of the 2013–2014 school year. Currently, Florida’s request is approved through the 2012–2013 school year, subject to the condition that the State revise its rule to include as graduates in its school grading system only students who have graduated with a regular high school diploma. On April 26, 2013, Florida provided evidence that the Florida State Board of Education approved the rule change at its April 16, 2013 meeting.
Based on this evidence, I am pleased to remove the condition from Florida’s ESEA flexibility request and extend approval of Florida’s request through the 2013–2014 school year. At that time, Florida, like other States with approved requests, may request an additional extension of these waivers.
Florida continues to have an affirmative responsibility to ensure that it and its districts are in compliance with Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age in their implementation of ESEA flexibility as well as their implementation of all other Federal education programs. These laws include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
I am confident that Florida will continue to implement the reforms it proposed under its approved ESEA flexibility request and advance its efforts to hold schools and school districts accountable for the achievement of all students. If you have any questions regarding the implementation of your ESEA flexibility request, please do not hesitate to contact Victoria Hammer of my staff at Victoria.Hammer@ed.gov.
Deborah S. Delisle
cc: Jane Fletcher, Director, Division of Accountability, Research, and Measurement