Florida threatens its schools with sanctions if they don't reverse mask mandate
Broward County, Florida - Broward County school leaders have until Friday to tell Florida if they intend to comply with state rules that mask mandates have an opt-out option for parents who don’t want their kids to wear one.
If the district doesn’t change its mask-requirement policy, the state could invoke "sanctions," including withholding the salaries of the superintendent and School Board members, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran warned in a letter.
The letter was sent to Broward Schools interim superintendent Vickie Cartwright and school board chairperson Rosalind Osgood late on Tuesday, just hours after members voted 8-1 to retain a mask mandate previously approved on July 28.
The mandate requires everyone – students, faculty, staff, and visitors – to wear a mask inside schools and on buses for the 2021-22 school year, with exceptions for students with medical conditions or individual education plans.
Corcoran told Broward officials their rules are "inconsistent" with Governor Ron DeSantis’ orders, which triggered new rules requiring public school districts to let parents opt their children out of mask mandates for any reason. No doctor’s note is required. School districts that fail to comply could face financial penalties.
Broward School Board members discussed the potential penalties Tuesday before voting on the mask mandate. The school board also authorized the district to hire outside legal counsel to review and challenge the state’s new rules.
Corcoran says the district has until 5 PM on Friday to submit a written document explaining how it’s complying with the state’s new rules.
Alachua and Leon counties also received similar letters.
Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire