In one of the first major battles of the 2021-22 school year, the Broward County School Board will meet Tuesday days after the Florida Board of Education demanded that it comply with an executive order banning mask mandates.
An official response from Broward, one of two counties issued the order from the state last Friday, is due by 10 a.m. at the 48 hour mark from when the order was issued.
In the letter, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said both Broward and Alachua County could face sanctions.
“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,” Corcoran said in a statement.
If the counties do not comply, they are ordered to provide the state with information on the “current annual compensation provided to all school board members.”
“The Florida Department of Education will then begin to withhold from state funds, on a monthly basis, an 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,” a statement from the state of Florida read in part.
The chair of the Broward County School Board, Rosalind Osgood, didn't mince words.
“I hate that it’s gotten to this point because what we really want to do is focus on accelerating learning for our students,” said Osgood.
She says the board isn't backing down.
"We will continue to do what we think is the right thing to do to protect our kids," Osgood said.
In another statement, the Broward County School Board said they believe their district is in compliance. The statement continued to say the Broward school board feels DeSantis is "overreaching his authority."
The Broward County School Board voted 8 to 1 to require masks at a meeting August 10th, where they said parents who want to opt out can do so with a medical waiver when the new school year started Wednesday.
DeSantis has insisted that the decision about wearing masks should be made by parents.
Florida’s Board of Education approved an emergency rule earlier in August granting private school vouchers for children who feel they are being harassed by a district’s COVID-19 safety policies, including mask requirements.
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