A challenge by six Florida school districts to the state’s ban on mask mandates was thrown out by an administrative law judge on Friday, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
The case involved school boards in Miami-Dade, Broward, Leon, Duval, Orange, and Alachua counties, which had filed a challenge to the ban on mandates in schools.
Brian Newman, deputy chief judge of the Division of Administrative Hearings, tossed the case, in part saying the state's emergency rule "strikes the right balance by implementing protocols that are no more restrictive than required to keep children safe and learning in school."
Florida Politics reported the judge ruled the state Department of Health has the authority to set rules on quarantines and mask mandates. The website noted the decision said the school boards do not have standing to overrule orders by the state’s surgeon general.
"The COVID-19 protocols adopted pursuant to section 1003.22(3) should be no more restrictive than necessary to keep children safe and learning in school," Newman wrote. "The fact that the Emergency Rule achieves this result — and at the same time involves parents in decisions involving their child’s health and education — does not run counter to the broad rulemaking directive."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in July issued an executive order barring school mask mandates. The Republican governor has said parents should decide if their children wear masks.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education had urged a Florida judge to block the state from withholding federal funds from two of the school districts for implementing mask mandates, Axios reported.
The department filed a complaint last week with the agency's Office of Administrative Law Judges and was seeking a cease-and-desist order against the state of Florida, Axios reported.
"The Florida Department of Education has unlawfully — and explicitly — reduced the amount of state aid provided to Florida school districts based on their receipt of federal funds," according to the complaint.
The DOE’s complaint alleges the state slashed funding to districts "as part of a broader effort to deter those districts from implementing practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," Axios reported.
Jeffrey Rodack ✉
Jeffrey Rodack, who has nearly a half century in news as a senior editor and city editor for national and local publications, has covered politics for Newsmax for nearly seven years.
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