The Florida Education Department on Friday ordered two school districts in the state to lift their mask mandates or face withheld funds after they defied the state’s ban on face covering requirements.
Within the next 48 hours, school boards in Broward and Alachua counties are required to offer an opt-out option for face coverings or have a portion of their state funding withheld.
The districts reimposed face covering requirements for students and staff despite Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) recently signing an executive that bans mask mandates.
DeSantis has said that parents should decide whether their child should mask up while attending school.
“School board members of districts have willingly and knowingly violated the rights of parents by denying them the option to make health care decisions for their children – a blatant violation of the Parents’ Bill of Rights, which Governor DeSantis signed into law on June 29, 2021,” the state’s Board of Education said.
The Florida DOE said it will withhold “an amount equal to 1/12 of the total annual compensation of the school board members who voted to impose the unlawful mask mandates” on a monthly basis if the districts fail to drop their mask mandates.
“These public officials have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida. We cannot have government officials pick and choose what laws they want to follow,” Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in a statement.
“These are the initial consequences to their international refusal to follow state law and state rule to purposefully and willingly violate the rights of parents,” he continued.
President Joe Biden, however, emphasized that the federal government will reimburse local districts who make efforts in “safely reopening schools” by issuing mask mandates for children.
Let me be clear: We will do everything we can to support local school districts in safely reopening schools. American Rescue Plan funds can be used to backfill the salaries of the brave Florida school board members, superintendents, and other educators keeping our children safe. https://t.co/sDoZHm3MMH
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 20, 2021
Miami-Dade County Public Schools on Wednesday also voted to reinstate a mask mandate.
Sources: TownHall: Florida DOE Says School Districts Must Drop Mask Mandate or Lose Funding