Florida is ordering two counties to drop their mask mandates for students in the next 48 hours or face financial penalties.
If Broward and Alachua counties refuse to comply with Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates they will lose part of their state funding.
“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 Board of Education said in a statement.
On July 30, 2021, Governor DeSantis issued and signed Executive Order 21-175 which requires public schools to “allow for a parent or legal guardian of the student to opt-out the student from wearing a face covering or mask.”
“It is important to remember that this issue is about ensuring local school board members, elected politicians, follow the law. 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,” said Commissioner of Education Corcoran. “These are the initial consequences to their intentional refusal to follow state law and state rule to purposefully and willingly violate the rights of parents. This is simply unacceptable behavior.”
The statement said that if the districts continue to fail or refuse to comply with the law, they are ordered to provide the Commissioner of Education with information confirming the current annual compensation provided to all school board members within 48 hours.
The Florida Department of Education will then begin withholding from state funds an amount equal to 1/12 of the total annual compensation of the school board members who voted to impose the unlawful mask mandates until each district demonstrates compliance. The districts will be prohibited from cutting costs in any area other than compensation for school board members.
“The Commissioner of Education and State Board of Education retain the right and duty to impose additional sanctions and take additional enforcement action to bring each school district into compliance with state law and rule,” the statement stated.
The Biden administration has said that federal American Rescue Plan funds can be used to compensate for any funds that are withheld.