Date: March 22, 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 regarding Florida’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility request. Currently, Florida’s request is approved through the 2012–2013 school year (SY), subject to the condition that the State revise its current rule to include as graduates in its school grading system only students who have graduated with a regular high school diploma. In order to meet this condition, Florida was required to submit to the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) by March 29, 2013 a revised ESEA flexibility request that reflects this changed rule. However, as noted in your February 25, 2013 letter to me, Florida needs additional time to change this rule given the public notice requirements that must be followed prior to the Florida State Board of Education’s (FSBE) action to approve the rule change at a board meeting. In particular, the FSBE cannot take action to approve the rule change until its April 16, 2013 meeting, in order to comply with those requirements.
In light of the evidence that Florida provided to demonstrate that it has taken the steps necessary to fulfill the public notice requirements, I am extending the deadline by which Florida must change its rule until April 30, 2013. On or before that date, Florida must submit to the Department an amended ESEA flexibility request that includes evidence that it has modified its rule for calculating high school grades to include as graduates only students, including students with disabilities, who have earned a regular high school diploma.
If Florida meets the above condition, it may request an extension of ESEA flexibility through the end of the 2013–2014 school year. At that time, Florida, like other States, would be able to request an additional extension through the 2014–2015 school year.
Please contact Victoria Hammer of my staff at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions as you move forward to fulfill this condition. Thank you for your commitment to improve public education and your continued focus on enhancing education for all of Florida’s students.
Deborah S. Delisle
cc: Governor Rick Scott
Jane Fletcher - Director, Division of Accountability, Research and Measurement