Ray Rodrigues, parents’ rights advocates maintain courts ruled wrong on masks
Ray Rodrigues. Image via Colin Hackley.

Backers say the Parents' Bill of Rights shouldn't expand School Board powers.

A judge has ruled a ban on mask mandates violates the Parents’ Bill of Rights. But the Senator behind the state law says that reading goes against legislative intent.

“We put all health care decisions in the hands of the parent,” said Sen. Ray Rodrigues, who sponsored the Parents’ Bill of Rights and carried it to passage this year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in June. A month later, he cited it when he announced an executive order forbidding school districts from requiring students to wear masks.

Rodrigues was at DeSantis’ side at both of those events. He said then the legislation ought to provide a solid foundation for the Governor’s direction.

“It absolutely provides the ability for the executive order to both the Department of Education and the Department of Health,” Rodrigues told Florida Politics then. “That’s a decision that should be up to the parents.”

In what could foreshadow the contents of an imminent appeal to the ruling, many of the architects for the Parents Bill of Rights, which was debated over three sessions, see something different in the law than Judge John Cooper found.

Cooper noted the law includes provisions letting school districts override the will of parents in a public health emergency.

“The defendants do not have authority under this law to a blanket mandatory ban against a facemask policy that does not provide a parental opt out,” Cooper said.

But Bridget Ziegler, a Sarasota School Board member opposed to mandates and who helped craft the Parents’ Bill of Rights, said that’s a reading of the law contrary to framers’ intent.

“It’s pretty wild to see a ruling on a law that is literally titled The Parents’ Bill of Rights attempt to provide additional protections for the government over parents,” she said.

“While I am confident this ruling will be overturned in appeal, no matter the outcome, all of this underscores just how important it is to be engaged in your child’s education and vote in the August school board elections for those who will protect your parental rights and our children’s education.”

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]

One comment

  • Alex

    August 28, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    Parents of another kid don’t have the right to endanger my children’s health.


Comments are closed.


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