McCaskey speaker challenges legality of Florida education law

The lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging controversial new education laws in the state of Florida told a group of McCaskey students that America needs to look beyond current legislation and case law to find remedies for racial disparities.

LeRoy Pernell is a professor of law and former dean at Florida A&M University College of Law and Northern Illinois University College of Law. He spoke Nov. 30 to students who are part of the Buddy Glover Public Service Project.




“What do you do in a society where bringing about equality has not as a result of legislation and case law?” he said. “If we still have racial inequality, we need to look beyond that.”

Pernell is a plaintiff, backed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU, charging that the Florida Legislature violated the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution with House Bill 7, known as the “Stop WOKE Act.” The act regulates the content of instruction and training in schools and workplaces.

“This is not just an attack on critical race theory, but on talking about race at all,” he said of the bill and others like it in states across the country. “How do you fix a problem if you can’t talk about it?”

A U.S. district judge declared parts of the law related to workplace diversity training unconstitutional, and in November he issued a preliminary injunction preventing the law from being enforced in higher education.

Pernell is a distinguished alumnus of Franklin & Marshall College, where he graduated in 1971. He earned his law degree from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

The Buddy Glover Public Service Project is an interdisciplinary program open to any interested student, primarily juniors and seniors. Students are given an array of problems to solve and a series of speakers talking about problems in different fields, such as law. Each student is completing an individual project aimed at improving life at McCaskey and can earn a community service credit.

In the afternoon, Pernell conducted a roundtable discussion with students on their public service projects.

“The project is fantastic, just the thing I dreamed would happen in Lancaster,” he said.

Several members of the Glover family attended the speech.

It’s the second such speech in the series so far this year. Author Kate Clifford Larson visited McCaskey on Nov. 7 and attended a screening of the film “Harriet,” a biopic of Harriet Tubman, on which she consulted.


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The School District of Lancaster stands as a distinguished leader in urban education within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. With a commitment to excellence, we are dedicated to ensuring that every child receives an outstanding education that prepares them for a successful future. For more information, visit

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