Senate Democrats to launch GoFundMe for defiant superintendents, school board members

Teenager in protective mask going to school in autumn
The Governor threatened salaries for those who make kids mask up.

Gov. Ron DeSantis may not want to pay school board members backing mask mandates. But Senate Democrats intend to make sure those officials receive a paycheck.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book and caucus leadership announced they will launch a GoFundMe raising private donations to support education leaders if the Governor follows through on his threat.

“If the Governor chooses to defund public education and withhold salaries from educators as punishment for protecting students’ health and safety, we will fill the gap to support them in this fight,” said Book, a Plantation Democrat.

The gesture follows DeSantis’ headline-making threat to withhold pay from school board members and superintendents. That would be a follow-through on an executive order DeSantis issued last month forbidding districts from imposing mask mandates, noting in the order that the state holds the purse strings on schools.

DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw on Monday said the Board of Education would tailor financial consequences for districts that run astray.

“The State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law,” she said.

At least 10 school districts have imposed mask requirements, but most have an opt-out clause that seemingly protects them from consequences from a rule issued by Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees. But not all have taken that step. Alachua and Broward counties have straight-up mandates in place, at least for the start of the year. Leon County has the requirement in place for K-8 students.

Democrats, though, suggested there’s nothing DeSantis can take away that his critics nationwide cannot replenish. The Senate caucus sent a letter to all 67 school districts’ superintendents and board members promising they had their backs regardless of any action taken by the Governor.

“We understand that public schools, school districts and school boards are facing unprecedented pressure to bow to the wishes of a Governor and administration adamantly opposed to any measure that might be perceived as counter to future political ambitions,” the letter reads. “But we believe in and support local rule — and we know your commitment to our children is your highest priority. Their future must always come first.”

Senators pointed to wide scientific agreement that masks reduce the transmission of COVID-19. The caucus leaders also noted a sharp increase in hospitalizations among children age 12 and younger who have COVID-19. Those under the age of 12 still can not receive one of three vaccines available in the U.S. to adults.

“Masks work, and locally elected leaders have a right to apply CDC guidance to keep kids safe at school,” said Sen. Janet Cruz, a Tampa Democrat and the caucus’ fiscal policy chair. “We stand with school leaders across the state who refuse to let our children become political pawns in the Governor’s partisan game.”

Sens. Lori Berman, Jason Pizzo and Bobby Powell also signed the letter.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


11 comments

  • Jpnh

    August 11, 2021 at 1:49 am

    Post the link to the GoFundMe campaign when it’s live. I don’t live in Florida, but i don’t care — I’d love to help these people resist this tyrannical, reckless governor.

    I’m from a state with a Republican governor which has one of the highest vaccination rates and lowest covid rates in the country, and our economy is strong. And we didn’t have to resort to petty sedition to do it. DeSantis and his policies need to go into the waste bin before any more damage can be done to his state or to this country.

    • Andy Dufrain

      August 11, 2021 at 8:03 am

      Same!!

    • LK

      August 22, 2021 at 9:14 am

      Thank you for the support, us sensible people down here in Florida appreciate it. We just want to protect each other. This governor is out of control.

  • Molly

    August 11, 2021 at 11:13 am

    Coming from Missouri, I too know what it is to have a governor willing to get people killed, left homeless, and without health care as a result of political bullsh*t. I will happily contribute to any efforts to protect children from the GOP.

  • Janet Fuqua

    August 11, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    I’m a retired teacher in Miami, and I will contribute!

  • Jackie Marsolais

    August 12, 2021 at 9:20 am

    I’m ready to donate. Need the link!

  • Derek Logue

    August 15, 2021 at 10:29 am

    I can’t trust Lauren Book with a single penny. She should give up all the millions she is leeching off the state for her fake charity if she really cares about the teachers. Lauren’s Kids gets millions while other, far more worthy charities, get squat.

  • Marilyn Westhoff

    August 20, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    Please post this link when it goes live. I never had kids in the public schools here but I live in Broward and am so proud of these board members who are standing up for what is right. I am sure funds can be raised to replace what DeathSantis is going to take from them.

  • Bill S

    August 20, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    Folks, there won’t be a go fund me link posted until the salaries are actually withheld, they could always flip-flop and continue paying them. Let’s keep our donations handy tho!

  • Mark E Hainer

    August 21, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    Let’s go for it I’m in
    Michigan

  • Laura Kallus

    August 22, 2021 at 9:17 am

    I’m ready to donate in gratitude for my school board members who did the right thing and voted to keep us and our children safe. Thank you Broward school board! Thank you Miami Dade school board!

Comments are closed.


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