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Florida Parents Turn to GoFundMe To Fight 3rd Grade Retention Law

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A group of Florida parents is using the popular crowdfunding site, GoFundMe, to raise money for a planned lawsuit challenging the state's law allowing test scores in decisions to retain 3rd graders.

About half of the donors had come from outside of Florida as of last week, said Cindy Hamilton, co-founder of the Opt Out Florida Network, which is organizing the fundraising effort. The group aims to raise $17,000. As of early Monday, the group had raised almost $13,000, according to the GoFundMe page.

By getting support from outside of Florida, Hamilton said the group hopes the lawsuit will have national implications. Sixteen states have laws requiring the retention of 3rd graders who fail to meet reading expectations, according to the Education Commission of the States.

"The easiest way to let those people across the nation know is through the GoFundMe platform," Hamilton told Education Week.

Fourteen families, whose 3rd grade children are supposed to be retained this coming school year, are lined up to file the lawsuit, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The Florida law has been in effect since 2002-03. But the issue has taken a turn in recent years as parents have increasingly opted out their children from Florida's standardized tests. Some also have refused to let their children do portfolios or take other tests used as alternatives to avoid retention.

Hamilton said the group is trying to raise money as quickly as possible because the families will start receiving legal bills in August. Some of the effected 3rd graders return to classes as early as Aug. 10.

"We're going about the lawsuit because we have to chip away at the bad education policy," Hamilton said.

This isn't the first time that GoFundMe has been used in Florida for an education issue. Earlier this year, Miami teachers were raising money to take on their school district over a wage dispute.

Contact Sarah Tully at [email protected].

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