- Attorney Ben Crump said during a Wednesday rally he intends to sue Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis if he does not work with College Board to offer AP African American Studies.
- The Florida Department of Education rejected the proposed course because its syllabus included content related to Critical Race Theory and queer theory.
- “We’re here to give notice to Governor DeSantis that if he does not negotiate with the College Board to allow AP African American Studies to be taught in the classrooms across the state of Florida then these three young people will be the lead plaintiffs in a historic lawsuit,” Crump said.
Attorney Ben Crump announced Wednesday afternoon his intent to sue Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis if the administration does not work with College Board, a national college-readiness organization, to offer AP African American Studies in public high schools.
Crump, alongside co-counsel Craig Whisenhunt, warned the DeSantis administration that a lawsuit on behalf of three Florida AP honors students is being considered during a rally at the state Capitol alongside several lawmakers, the students and an American Federation of Teachers representative, according to the firm’s Twitter. The Florida Department of Education (DOE) rejected the AP course on Jan. 12 because its syllabus included tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and taught “Black Queer Studies.” (RELATED: DeSantis Defends Nixing AP Black History Course)
“We’re here to give notice to Gov. DeSantis that if he does not negotiate with the College Board to allow AP African American Studies to be taught in the classrooms across the state of Florida then these three young people will be the lead plaintiffs in a historic lawsuit,” Crump said during a rally at the state house called “Stop The Black Attack.”
Crump represented the families of George Floyd and Trayvon Martin.
State Sens. Shervin Jones and Geraldine Thompson, Florida House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell and state Reps. Dianne Hart and Michele Rayner were reportedly present at the announcement.
“This threat is nothing more than a meritless publicity stunt,” Florida DOE communications director Alex Lanfranconi told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
MEDIA ALERT: @AttorneyCrump & co-counsel will join students & elected officials to announce their intent to file a lawsuit against FL. Gov. DeSantis & the state of Florida for rejecting the AP African American Studies course from being taught in Florida high schools. pic.twitter.com/FIBHDrDtWI
— Ben Crump Law, PLLC (@BenCrumpLaw) January 25, 2023
“This effort by the governor disproportionately affects only some,” Whisenhunt said. “There are protections to content-oriented speech and this only intends to limit some content, the content that applies to African-American studies and African-American students’ histories, our black communities. It doesn’t speak to the traditions of white America, only that which Gov. DeSantis seems to take exception to, which seems to be time and time again the minorities in the state of Florida.”
The state DOE said in its rejection letter to College Board that the course “lacks education value” and violated state law which restricts CRT being taught in public schools. Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary, previously told the DCNF that DeSantis “has continually advocated for and ensured Florida’s schools utilize accurate, historical curriculum, including curriculum that factually portrays African American History.”
The three students all expressed concern about the course not being offered and said that the administration’s decision would deprive Florida students of an education.
“Every single AP course that I have taken has significantly advanced my knowledge and understanding of our world and has inspired me to learn more and I have full confidence that this course would be no different,” said student Juliette Heckman. “Simply because Florida lawmakers may be uncomfortable or even afraid [of] the course’s criteria … does not grant them the right to take away this opportunity from thousands of students across the state.”
Elijah Edwards said he was excited to take the course, but “instead of approving the class and giving me and my fellow students around Florida a glimmer of hope to learn about the roots of our lineage, Gov. DeSantis decided to deny the potentially life-changing class and effectively censor the freedom of our education and shield us from the truth of our ancestors.”
College Board announced on Tuesday that it would release a newly updated framework for AP African American Studies on Feb. 1. Florida’s DOE said in its rejection letter that it would be willing to reconsider the course if the board proposes “lawful, historically accurate content.”
“Lacking an AP dedicated to the ones this country was built off the backs of is further oppressing a group that has done more for this country than the country has done for them,” student Victoria McQueen said during the rally.
Jones, Thompson, Driskell, Hart, Rayner and the AFT did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment. The students could not be reached for comment. Ben Crump Law referred the DCNF to the news conference.
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