President Joe Biden’s U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE) is opening an investigation into Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ mask mandate ban. Specifically, the U.S. DOE’s civil rights office will be leading the probe after the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of reinstating DeSantis’ mask mandate ban.
The Acting Assistant Secretary for the civil rights office, Suzanne Goldberg, wrote a letter to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran saying the federal government is concerned about Florida’s mask policies.
“I write to inform you that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is opening a directed investigation into whether the Florida Department of Education may be preventing school districts in the state from considering or meeting the needs of students with disabilities as a result of Florida’s policy that requires public schools and school districts to allow parents or legal guardians to opt their child out of mask mandates designed to reduce the risk to students and others of contracting COVID-19 in school. OCR’s investigation will focus on whether, in light of this policy, students with disabilities who are at heightened risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are prevented from safely returning to in-person education, in violation of Federal law.”
Goldberg cites the “extensive evidence” supporting universal masking to prevent the transmission COVID and how preventing universal masking might lead to discrimination against students with disabilities.
“In light of these circumstances, OCR is concerned that Florida’s policy requiring public schools and school districts to allow parents to opt their children out of mask mandates may be preventing schools in Florida from meeting their legal obligations not to discriminate based on disability and from providing an equal educational opportunity to students with disabilities who are at heightened risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”
This is not the first time in the last few months the federal government has interfered with Florida’s policies. In August, U.S. Education Sec. Miguel Cardona sent a letter to Corcoran expressing his concern that Florida’s mask mandate ban puts teachers and students at risk.
Cardona also said in the letter that the U.S. DOE is standing with the rogue school districts who have gone outside of the law and imposed mask mandates.
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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.
Background Photo “U.S. Department of Education” by Farragutful CC BY-SA 4.0.