Florida education officials have followed through on threats to cut funding to local school districts that violate the governor’s ban on mask mandates.
Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran announced Monday that the Florida Department of Education is withholding money that amounts to monthly school board member salaries in Alachua and Broward counties — even as the Biden administration launched a federal probe into such state mask-mandate bans.
School districts in the two Florida counties were the first to implement mask mandates for students unless they had a medical exemption.
Corcoran said those districts were acting in violation of parental rights by not allowing a parent or legal guardian to opt out their child, per the Florida Department of Health emergency rule.
“We’re going to fight to protect parents’ rights to make health care decisions for their children,” Corcoran said in a statement. “They know what is best for their children.”
But Broward County Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said she believes that her district is acting in compliance with the law.
“The health and safety of our students, teachers and staff continue to be our main priorities,” Cartwright said. “As such, BCPS [Broward County Public Schools] will continue to mandate masks, knowing the data shows they help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our schools.”
Eight other school districts have also required masks for students in violation of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban.
The ban was ruled unconstitutional last week by a Tallahassee circuit judge who sided with a group of parents, although it is still unclear what immediate effect the ruling may have. DeSantis has vowed to appeal.
The governor had been threatening for weeks to revoke funding to school boards that enforce mask mandates.
The Biden administration has already pledged to provide federal assistance to any schools that lose funding over the mask rules — and Monday announced the US Department of Education would investigate Florida and four other states banning mask mandates.
With Post wires