A Sarasota, Florida, chiropractor has reportedly signed more than 500 medical exemptions for parents wanting to "opt-out" of Sarasota County’s new mask mandates. Sarasota is one of 11 Florida school districts to require students to wear masks in defiance of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on such mandates.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports Dan Busch, a chiropractor at Twin Palms Chiropractic, has signed roughly one-third of all medical exemption forms turned in district-wide, since the policy went into effect Monday. Various media reports over the last week have shown families in lines wrapping around Busch's practice. Some families have told news reporters they simply grabbed a pre-signed form from the counter.
The Herald-Tribune reported after the influx of forms signed by Busch, and suspicions that his office was distributing pre-signed forms, Superintendent Brennan Asplen issued an updated mask exemption form Tuesday. That updated policy states that exemption forms can only be signed by medical doctors, osteopathic physicians, licensed or advanced registered nurse practitioners.
In a statement accompanying the new rule, Asplen said the new policy was "so that we can be consistent in our consideration of whether medical reasons warrant individuals to be exempt from the policy and to prevent abuse."
Busch denied handing out pre-signed forms without meeting with parents in an interview with local NBC affiliate WFLA. "I have not given exemptions to any parents that I have not met with," he said. "This is not a political thing," Busch explained. "I am not an anti-mask person or an anti-vax person, but I am a pro-freedom, pro-choice person."
The new exemption policy unfairly raises questions about the credentials of chiropractors as medical professionals, according to an attorney for Busch. Bryan Kessler, a Venice attorney, told the Herald-Tribune the medical professionals listed in the updated policy are pulled from a statute that is specific to immunizations, not face masks.
Kessler said his client "is interested to know whether the School Board will adopt a policy to no longer accept school physicals from chiropractors?" He added, "It seems that if the school board is taking the position that chiropractors are unqualified to sign the mask exemption forms, then it goes without saying they are likewise unqualified to determine whether a student is physically fit enough to participate in school athletics. Perhaps the school board can clarify its position on this in the future."
The Herald-Tribune said District officials are currently trying to figure out how to handle the more than 500 students with forms signed by Busch.
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