Broward and Alachua schools not budging from student mask requirement
Students wearing masks attend a class in Dinh Cong secondary school in Hanoi, Vietnam. In Vietnam, schools closed in late January and remained closed until May. Image via AP.

closed schools
Broward cites state Constitution's language that allows local school boards to set dress codes

The showdown between Gov. Ron DeSantis and school boards defying his order by requiring all students mask up to shows no sign of letting up.

The Alachua County school superintendent sent a one-page letter reiterating the district’s belief that universal masking is the best way to keep students healthy in a pandemic. And Broward County schools Tuesday sent a 20-page document saying the district is complying with the Governor’s order — the legal parts of it, anyway.

Both districts received orders from Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran last week that the districts’ state aid will be reduced in the amount equal to school board members’ salaries. The order would be lifted if the boards backtrack on approved policies that do not let parents decide whether students come to school with their faces covered.

No dice, both school districts are saying.

“We do believe that it is an overreach of their authority, that we are legally compliant,” Broward County Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said Tuesday. “And we have respectfully requested they rescind the order that has been placed upon the Broward County Schools.”

Alachua County Superintendent Carlee Simon asserts that universal masking was the best way to keep children in the classroom and out of the hospital.

“The parents of Alachua County have placed their trust in us to care for their children,” she wrote in the district’s response.

Broward’s response cites passages in the state Constitution that detail “home rule” authority for school boards that appear to allow mandatory face masks. The Constitution, the response says, gives school boards, “the authority to adopt policies that impose dress-related requirements ‘if the school board finds that those requirements are necessary for the safety and welfare of the student body or school personnel.’”

School Board Chairwoman Rosalind Osgood said that the School Board has directed the district’s legal team to find an avenue to make the district’s case.

More districts are in line to receive the same treatment from the state Education Department: Duval, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Sarasota counties have all passed policies that require students to come to school with their faces covered unless they have a doctor’s note. Officials in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade schools said the districts have not yet heard from the Education Department about last week’s votes.

An Education Department spokesman said he would provide updates as they come and none were available Tuesday.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


4 comments

  • ScienceBLVR

    August 24, 2021 at 9:19 pm

    So glad some school districts stand up for the health and well-being of students and teachers as opposed to political BS agendas. Too bad Pinellas County won’t even schedule a meeting to discuss mask mandates…Shame on them. Remember to vote in local elections!

    • Pat

      August 24, 2021 at 9:51 pm

      I’m looking forward to knowing what DeSantis is going to do about withholding school district monies. I’m sure each side has their lawyer(s) on speed dial.

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 25, 2021 at 7:54 am

    Duffus Desantis does not give a rats ass for truth and facts! Duffus Desantis is willingly slaughtering Floridians and our Children. If your child dies press murder charges against Duffus Desantis! Man ain’t notin but a drug dealer for pharma political dollars! Lock him up for placing our children in harms way!

  • Suzan

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Comments are closed.


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