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Complaint filed for racial, age discrimination against teachers

The Florida Department of Education hadn't been served a copy of the Florida Education Association's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint as of Dec. 21, and because of that, a spokeswoman said the department has no comment on the allegations. The complaint was also filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations. The complaint has to do with the state's "Best and Brightest" bonus program for teachers. The FEA, which is the largest union of teachers in the state, says that teachers who are over the age of 40 and those that are minorities are discriminated against with the program.

The only teachers who are eligible to get the bonuses are those who got certain high scores on their ACT or SAT tests and teachers that are rates as "highly effective." The state's legislature funded the bonus program with $44 million from the 2015-2016 budget. Some teachers will get $10,000 for their bonuses.

The complaint lists several reasons why the "Best and Brightest" bonus program is discriminatory. Some of those reasons include:

-- The deadline for turning in applications was Oct. 1, which didn't give teachers who are 40 years old and over time to access their scores.

-- Teachers who took the SAT or ACT before 1972 couldn't get their scores, which means they were not able to apply.

-- First-year teachers don't have to prove that they were given a rating of "highly effective." There are few first-year teachers who are 40 years old or older.

-- Hispanic and African-American teachers are also discriminated against because the ACT and the SAT are culturally and racially biased, which the courts have well-established.

The FEA seeks attorney's fees, costs and other damages. The state's 74 school districts are also named as defendants in the complaint. The bonus program is slated to be renewed during the next legislative session.

When someone is subjected to racial or age discrimination, he or she has options. An experienced attorney can provide more information about these and other types of discrimination, as well as how to seek justice.

Source: Tamps Bay Times, "FEA alleges discrimination over 'Best and Brightest' teachers bonuses," Kristin M. Clark, Dec. 21, 2015

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