Florida withholds funding of school board members for enforcing mask mandates in two counties despite court ruling

"We're going to fight to protect parent's rights to make health care decisions for their children. They know what is best for their children."

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Monday, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced that the Florida Department of Education will be withholding the monthly salaries of school board members in two Florida counties after those districts enacted mask mandates that have no parental opt-out.

As laid forth in the Florida Department of Health Emergency Rule 64DER21-12, there must be a parental opt-out for their child if masks are requested to be worn in school. In addition, such students are not allowed to be discriminated against in ways including isolation, exclusion from activities, and relegation to certain locations.

"We're going to fight to protect parent's 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," said Corcoran in a news release Monday.

The two districts in question are Alachua and Broward county. Broward has previously issued and removed a mask mandate after Governor Ron DeSantis threatened funding pauses if the mandate is instituted.

The withholding of funds, according to Corcoran, will continue until the counties comply.

According to the Miami Herald, which used data from the Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research, school board members in Alachua County make $40,000 per year and in Broward County they make $46,000 per year.

The decision comes less than a week after a Florida judge ruled that DeSantis' ban on mask mandates is "unconstitutional."

Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper ruled in favor of a group of parents who filed a lawsuit against DeSantis' executive order.

Cooper ruled that individual rights can be limited if they affect the health and safety of others, which they argue masks fall under.

On Monday night, Broward County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright reiterated her support and the need for masks to be worn in schools.

"The health and safety of our students, teachers and staff continue to be our main priorities," Cartwright said. "As such, BCPS will continue to mandate masks, knowing the data shows they help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our schools."


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