Politics

Florida Board of Education votes to withhold funds from districts that enforce COVID-19 mask mandates

The Florida Board of Education voted unanimously on Thursday to withhold funding from eight school districts that enforced mask mandates in their schools.

School mask mandates go against state rules that require parents to have the “sole discretion” in whether their children wear masks to school. The decision was made at Thursday’s meeting after board members weighed comments from the public, superintendents and board officials about whether districts for Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Duval, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties were in compliance with the state’s rules.

In late September, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new rule that says schools can require mask-wearing on campus, but that students can opt out of the requirement “at the parent or legal guardian’s sole discretion.”

The state’s Department of Education said in a statement that the counties “willingly and knowingly violated the rights of students and parents by denying them the option to make personal and private health care and educational decisions for their children.”

While discussing Alachua County, Board Commissioner Richard Corcoran urged the Board of Education to penalize noncompliant districts by withholding funds equal to 1/12 of all school board members annual salaries.

He also recommended that the board withhold state funds “in an amount equal to” any federal grant funds for districts that “support noncompliance” with state protocols. The board unanimously authorized his recommendation, giving districts 48 hours to adhere to state law [CBS News].

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK TIMES

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