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Hearing Set In Disabled Students Mask Case Involving Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - A federal judge will hear arguments next week in a lawsuit alleging that Gov. Ron DeSantis' effort to block school mask mandates has violated laws designed to protect the rights of students with disabilities.

U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore, who is based in Miami, issued an order Monday scheduling a Sept. 8 hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction against an executive order issued by DeSantis.

Parents of children with disabilities filed the lawsuit Aug. 6, alleging that the July 30 executive order violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and two other federal disability laws. It names as defendants DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and the school boards in Orange, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Broward, Pasco, Alachua and Volusia counties.

DeSantis' order and a related Florida Department of Health rule were aimed at preventing school districts from requiring students to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the lawsuit contends that the executive order violates the federal disability laws, in part because children with disabilities are more susceptible to serious illness or death from COVID-19.

In a separate case, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper on Friday barred the Florida Department of Education, Corcoran and the State Board of Education from enforcing DeSantis' order. But the DeSantis administration immediately vowed to appeal Cooper's ruling, which came in a challenge filed by a group of parents. The federal case is more narrowly focused on students with disabilities.

(©2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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