In an announcement made by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) on Monday, the Department said it will officially withhold salaries of school boards in Alachua and Broward counties for issuing mask mandates for their students in violation of state law.
In July, Governor DeSantis signed an executive order banning school boards and districts from placing mask mandates in Florida schools, referencing the Parents’ Bill of Rights that DeSantis established in the 2021 legislative session.
As reported by The Florida Capital Star, DeSantis has stood firm in his stance to restrict mask mandates in school which he asserted, “In Florida, there will be no lockdowns, there will be no school closures… no restrictions, and no mandates in the state of Florida. Floridians have been, are, and will remain, free to choose what’s best for themselves and their families… We’ll protect the right of businesses to operate, and we will protect the right of our kids to attend school in person.”
Sticking with that sentiment, FDOE Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, said on Monday, “We’re going to fight to protect parents’ rights to make health care decisions for their children. They know what is best for their children. What’s unacceptable is the politicians who have raised their right hands and pledged, under oath, to uphold the Constitution but are not doing so. Simply said, elected officials cannot pick and choose what laws they want to follow.”
According to the FDOE, the decision to withhold said salaries come after a reasonable attempt to let the districts abide by the law after initially violating it. It states:
“On August 20, 2021, the State Board of Education issued the Alachua and Broward County school districts with an Order demanding that they comply with state statute and rule; however, both districts refuse to comply. Each county is also prohibited from reducing any expenditures other than those related to compensation for school board members, and clearly states each district may not permit the reduction of funds to impact student services or teacher pay.” Those orders gave each county’s school board 48 hours to comply to the law without penalty.
Even with Alachua and Broward counties being the first to be hit with a penalty, school boards in Palm Beach, Hillsborough, and Miami-Dade counties are continuing to challenge DeSantis’ executive order and expect to receive the same penalties in the coming weeks.
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