Gov. Ron DeSantis expects the state to swiftly appeal if his school mask mandate ban is defeated in court Thursday.
A group of parents sued Florida over the Governor’s executive order prohibiting school boards from adopting school mask mandates. That case is in its fourth and final day in the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court, and a decision is expected later Thursday.
Speaking alongside Attorney General Ashley Moody in Orlando, DeSantis told reporters Florida would “obviously” appeal if Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper rules against the state.
“We feel that the Legislature really made a big statement with their parental bill of rights,” DeSantis said.
Additionally, he anticipates the parents would appeal if Cooper rules in the state’s favor.
“That’s good. I think we obviously need to have this stuff crystallized,” DeSantis said.
The Governor tied his executive order to the Parents’ Bill of Rights, a law he signed in June. That measure provides parents freedom from the state and public schools in how they raise their children — extending to decisions about education, health care and mental health.
The parents suing the state hope to “nullify” that law, DeSantis said.
Moody, who leads the state’s legal efforts, said all public officials are concerned for the health and safety of Floridians and want to do everything in their power to protect them. Those challenges should be made in court, and they shouldn’t be made by flouting the law, she continued.
“You cannot flagrantly disregard statutes and orders in violation of law,” Moody said. “It’s pretty clear. It’s a tenet of what our country is built on.”
The DeSantis administration has threatened to withhold funding from school districts equal to district administrators’ pay if they flout the state’s mask rules. On Wednesday, DeSantis told reporters there will continue to be consequences if the districts in violation maintain course.
He elaborated Thursday, pointing to a possible lawsuit from parents of children in districts that are violating the mask rules. The state might also place additional penalties on the offending superintendents and school board members, who are elected officials.
“There’ll be no penalties applied to schoolchildren or teachers or any of that,” DeSantis said. “In fact, if teachers just follow state law, they’ll be protected for doing that.”