Final Agency Action

Got your Road to Independence scholarship terminated? The First DCA says that’s not a final agency action subject to review. In Wade v Florida Department of Children and Families, ___ So.3d ___, No. 1D10-2502 (FEb. 7, 2011), the Court sua sponte determined that it had no jurisdiction over the appeal.

Interestingly, the Agency thought it was a final appealable order, and told the appellant so. The appellant first received a letter terminating her scholarship, and the letter stated that she had the right to request a “fair hearing.” The appellant participated in an evidentiary hearing before a hearing officer, who affirmed the denial of the scholarship. The affirmance was denominated a “final order” and included “notice of right to appeal” language directing the apellant to file a notice of appeal with the DCA if she wished to challenge the “final order.”

After seeking additional briefing in the jurisdictional issue from the parties, the Court concluded that the “final order” was not, in fact, a final order, due to the restrictions of the statute that created the scholarship program. Relying on section 409.1451(5)(e)2., Fla. Stat., the Court explained that the scholarship program is required to provide for “an appeal to the Secretary of Children and Family Services,” and the implimenting regulations do not transform the hearing process employed here into the required appeal to the Secretary.

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