The Florida Department of Education on Friday warned that it may start withholding state funds from school districts in Broward and Alachua counties that have mask mandates for students.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill in June intended to prohibit schools from issuing mask requirements for students during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, saying, "I think that this decision about whether parents want their kids to have to wear masks all day at school, I think that’s a decision that falls squarely within the concord of this Parents’ Bill of Rights that I signed."
On Friday, the state Education Department issued an order to school districts "demanding that they comply with state statute and rule," saying that school officials "have willingly and knowingly violated the rights of parents by denying them the option to make health care decisions for their children."
It goes on to say that the Alachua and Broward school districts have to "document compliance with the Parents’ Bill of Rights" in the next 48 hours, and if they don’t they must supply Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran with information that shows the "current annual compensation provided to all school board members within 48 hours." After this, the department will start withholding a monthly "amount equal to 1/12 of the total annual compensation of the school board members who voted to impose the unlawful mask mandates until each district demonstrates compliance."
Corcoran said in a statement: "It is important to remember that this issue is about ensuring local school board members, elected politicians, follow the law. These public officials have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida. We cannot have government officials pick and choose what laws they want to follow. These are the initial consequences to their intentional refusal to follow state law and state rule to purposefully and willingly violate the rights of parents. This is simply unacceptable behavior."
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