Authorities withhold school board salaries beyond mask obligations


Tallahassee, Florida (AP) — Florida education officials began taking advantage of threats to withhold funding from local school districts that opposed Governor Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask orders on Monday.

The Board of Education Richard Corcoran has announced that the Florida Department of Education has withheld the amount equivalent to the monthly salary of the Alachua and Broward County Boards of Education, following the instructions of the State Board of Education. Funds will continue to be withheld until the district adheres, according to Corcoran.

Broward County Interim Supervisor Vicky Cartwright said in a statement that the Broward County Board of Education believes they are in compliance with the law.

“The health and safety of our students, teachers and staff remains our number one priority,” said Cartwright. “That’s why BCPS (Broward County Public Schools) continues to mandate masks. As the data show, masks help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our schools.”

Republican DeSantis, aiming for a possible 2024 presidential election, threatened to fine the school board for weeks. Democratic President Joe Biden said federal funds would be used to cover all costs if that happened.

The Alachua and Broward county school districts were the first 10 school districts to require all students to wear masks, unless there was a medical exemption to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These districts, including cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and West Palm Beach, make up more than half of the 2.8 million Florida public school students enrolled this year.

Corcoran said these districts violate parental rights by not allowing parents or legal guardians to opt out of their children. Florida Health Department Urgent Regulations..

“We will fight to protect parents’ right to make decisions about their children’s health. They know what’s best for their children,” Corcoran said in a statement. ..

Corcoran said elected officials, such as members of the school board, could not choose the laws they wanted to follow. He promised that board members would support the Constitution, but said he did not.

in the meantime, Circuit Judge Tallahassee agreed on Friday With a group of parents who claimed in a lawsuit that DeSantis’ ban on Maskman dating was unconstitutional and could not be enforced. Judge John C. Cooper of the Leon County Circuit Court said the executive order issued by Desantis, which was the basis of the Ministry of Health’s emergency rules, has no legal authority.

Cooper said the decision would not take effect until it was written and asked his parents’ lawyer to complete it by Monday. Craig Whisenhunt, one of the parents’ leading lawyers, said they would comply with this and hope that this week’s ruling will come into effect.

The Governor’s Office has stated that Cooper’s decision is not based on law, and the state will appeal it.

The highly contagious Delta variant has led to accelerated incidents around Florida and record-high hospitalization, just as the school prepared to reopen classrooms. By mid-August, more than 21,000 new cases were added per day, which was about 8,500 a month ago. Over the past week, new cases and hospitalizations have leveled off. The US Department of Health and Human Services aggregated 15,488 patients with COVID-19 at Florida hospitals, a decrease of 8% over the past week.

School officials in Alachua County did not immediately respond to the Associated Press’s request for comment.