mask mandates

Dept. of Education Withholds Broward, Alachua School Board Salaries Over Mask Mandates

The school districts in Broward and Alachua counties have upheld their mandatory face mask policies for students and staff.

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The Florida Department of Education has withheld the monthly salaries of school board members in Broward and Alachua counties over their mandatory mask mandates.

“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," Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in a news release Monday. "Simply said, elected officials cannot pick and choose what laws they want to follow."

The school districts in Broward and Alachua counties have upheld their mandatory face mask policies for students and staff. The state says the districts are violating parental rights by not allowing children's legal guardians to decide whether they can opt out of the mask-wearing policy.

A Circuit judge roled that school districts can mandate masks, but the state is vowing to appeal to a higher court. NBC 6's Ryan Nelson reports.

"The withholding of funds will continue monthly until each school board complies with state law and rule," the news release said.

On Friday, a judge ruled school districts can legally require their students to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, saying Gov. Ron DeSantis overstepped his authority when he issued an executive order banning such mandates.

Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper agreed with a group of parents who claimed in a lawsuit that DeSantis' order is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. The governor's order gave parents the sole right to decide if their child wears a mask at school.

Broward County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said in a statement that she believes the district is in compliance because it reports daily students who face a consequence for not wearing a mask.

"The health and safety of our students, teachers and staff continue to be our main priorities. As such, BCPS will continue to mandate masks, knowing the data shows they help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our schools," Cartwright said. "As previously stated, this decision will be reviewed by the School Board after Labor Day as conditions may change and modification may be appropriate."

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