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Florida Department Of Education Withholds Funds In Broward, Alachua Counties For Mask Mandate

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The Florida Department of Education has gone through with its threat of withholding monthly school board member salaries who violate Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates, even though a judge has already ruled the ban on mandates is unconstitutional.

Monday, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran announced the Florida DOE has withheld the monthly school board member salaries in Alachua and Broward County.

The DOE stated, "Each district has implemented a mandatory face mask policy that violates parental rights by not allowing a parent or legal guardian to opt-out their child, as required by Florida Department of Health Emergency Rule 64DER21-12." The withholding of funds will continue monthly until each school board complies with state law and rule, according to the Department of Education.

"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. Simply said, elected officials cannot pick and choose what laws they want to follow," said Commissioner of Education Corcoran.

Corcoran also said additional sanctions and enforcement action may be imposed on each school district which violates the law.

Last week, however, Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper agreed with a group of parents who claimed in a lawsuit that the ban on the mandates is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced.

Cooper's decision came after a three-day virtual hearing and as at least 10 Florida school boards voted to defy DeSantis and impose mask requirements with no parental opt-out. The governor's office said Cooper's decision was not based on the law and it will appeal.

Broward County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie L. Cartwright released the following statement in response:

"Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) and the Broward County School Board believe we are in compliance. In the spirit of cooperation, the District is continuing to comply with the sanction imposed by Florida's Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran regarding daily reporting of 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.  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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