DeSantis Backs Off of Penalties for Defiant Florida School Districts

Ron DeSantis of Florida


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has backed down from withholding salaries from school board members and superintendents who defy DeSantis’ statewide mask mandate ban. Alachua and Broward school districts are the two remaining holdout districts who are continuing to defy DeSantis’ order and mandate masks only providing for a doctor’s note exemption for students.

Earlier this week, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran penned a letter to the districts saying they had by 5:00 p.m. Friday to comply with the ban or face salary suspensions.  

DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw also reminded the defiant school districts of the consequences earlier this week:

“With respect to enforcing any financial consequences for noncompliance of state law regarding these rules and ultimately the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s education and health care decisions, it would be the goal of the State Board of Education to narrowly tailor any financial consequences to the offense committed. For example, the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law.”

However, DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education (DOE) recognized the state cannot regulate the salaries of local officials, originally reported by the Miami Herald.

“Those officials should own their decision — and that means owning the consequences of their decisions rather than demanding students, teachers, and school staff to foot the bill for their potential grandstanding,” said Pushaw to the Herald.

Alachua County responded to DeSantis and the DOE by saying they have no control over salaries.

“Neither the Florida Department of Education nor the Board of Education control the payroll distribution of school districts. Your action would, however, remove funding from our district’s general fund and would be a reduction of allocation,” said Alachua Superintendent Carlee Simon and School Board Chair Leanetta McNealy.

But, the state can still follow through on withholding funds to the school district apart from local officials’ salaries. Broward could face a $700,000 reduction to its budget, and Alachua could face a $300,00 reduction.

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and The Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.








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