Summary of Cooper v. Crist – October 2, 2002 Ruling


In 2001, Betty Shields brought suit against the Florida Department of Education on behalf of her godson, after the state refused access to his FCAT test booklets and graded answer sheets. Following her death, the lawsuit continued with the student’s father, Steven O. Cooper, as plaintiff. Leon Circuit Judge Janet E. Ferris, who decided the case in favor of the Cooper family, indicated that “Providing parents or guardians reasonable access to such materials, especially where their child has ‘failed’ the test, does no violence to the integrity of the testing process.” Judge Ferris based her decision on the premise of state law that requires that education records be shared with parents.

Governor Jeb Bush, Commissioner of Education Charlie Crist, and the Florida Department of Education determined that they would continue to fight the ruling and seek an appeal. They viewed this decision as unacceptable based on specific Florida Statutes which protect the security of the tests.