DeSantis Faces Threat Of AP Black Studies Lawsuit By Florida Students, Attorney Crump

Governor Ron DeSantis in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined Florida students Wednesday to announce they would sue the state and its governor, Ron DeSantis, if they don’t restore African-American studies to the Advanced Placement curriculum.

Driving the news: There is growing outrage over the Florida Department of Education’s decision to block the course. The Department last week saying the College Board, the nonprofit group that oversees the AP program, which is “contrary to Florida law and significantly lacking in educational value.”

  • Crump, who represents three AP honors high school students with attorney Craig Whisenhunt, said at a news conference Wednesday that blocking the course violated the federal and state constitutions.

What they are saying: “If the Governor allows the College Board to introduce African American AP Studies into classrooms throughout the state of Florida, then we will not feel the need to bring this historic lawsuit,” Crump said.

  • “However, if you reject the free flow of ideas and suppress African-American studies, then we are prepared to take this controversy all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Context: The Florida State Board of Education unanimously approved an amendment in 2021 banning critical race theory, which links racial discrimination to the nation’s fundamentals and legal system, in a move backed by DeSantis.

  • Last week, the state education commissioner linked the AP course to CRT, tweeting that the department had “rejected an AP course filled with Critical Race Theory and other obvious violations of Florida law.”

The panorama: Community leaders and state legislators have criticized the decision to ditch the curriculum.

  • Some speakers at a “Stop the Black Attack” voting rights rally in the state capital, Tallahassee, on Wednesday accused DeSantis of trying to further marginalize Florida’s black community, according to the Washington Post.
  • Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones (D) said the governor should address issues like the state’s “ruining schools” and high homeowners insurance costs, but “they’re being ignored because we have to deal with Jim’s promotion Crow 3.0 by people who don’t know and don’t care about what’s happening in Black communities, but want to arbitrate how they teach our history.”
  • State Rep. Michele Rayner (D) said DeSant is on a political “witch hunt” and that “there are 2.8 million students sitting in Florida public schools right now knowing that their governor doesn’t want them to learn about the black history,” reports WashPost. .

What we are seeing: The Florida Department of Education said earlier this month that it would be “willing to reopen the discussion” if the College Board develops a curriculum with “legally and historically accurate content.”

What he says: Representatives for DeSantis did not immediately respond to Axios’ request for comment, but the Florida governor said in 2021: “Critical race theory teaches kids to hate our country and to hate each other. It is state sanctioned racism and has no place in Florida. schools.”

Go deeper: The next critical theory of the fight race