State withholds salaries of Broward, Alachua school board members over mask mandates
Image via AP.

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The department may also impose additional sanctions.

Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ vow to punish school districts that defy his masks order has been set into action in Alachua and Broward Counties.

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced the state is withholding school board members’ salaries in Alachua and Broward after those school district implemented mandatory mask-wearing policies for students in public schools.

In a statement Monday, the Department of Education said the state will continue to deny salaries until each district is compliant. The department also hinted it might impose additional sanctions.

The actions mark the state’s first punishment against members who enact mask mandates.

“We’re going to fight to protect parent’s rights to make health care decisions for their children,” Corcoran said in a prepared statement. “They know what is best for their children. What’s unacceptable is the politicians who have raised their right hands and pledged, under oath, to uphold the Constitution but are not doing so. Simply said, elected officials cannot pick and choose what laws they want to follow.”

Corcoran’s announcement comes after a Leon County judge ruled against DeSantis’ order forbidding student mask mandates in public schools.

It also comes after the same judge, John Cooper of the 2nd Judicial Circuit, ruled that the Department of Education cannot enforce masking emergency rules without allowing districts to prove their orders are reasonable.

The ruling, however, has yet to be signed. But Cooper issued the order orally on Friday.

“Unlike several school districts in this state, our Department plans on continuing to follow the rule of law until such time as the Court issues its ruling, and subsequent to that ruling, we plan on immediately appealing this decision to the 1st (District Court of Appeals), from which we will seek to stay the ruling,” Education Department spokesman Jared Ochs said, adding that the department began withholding the funds on Thursday.

Florida Politics noted the injunction ordered against the department.

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“Of course, it’s ironic being asked such a question by the media when similar questions have seldom been directed to the several school districts that are operating in violation of written law and preventing children from a free and public education,” Ochs replied.

More than half of Florida’s public school students attend schools that require masks for everyone. School districts in Indian River, Leon, Brevard and Orange counties are some of the latest to flout the executive order and emergency rules.

In early August, the State Board of Education ruled that Alachua and Broward county school districts violated state law with their mask mandates.

Despite the determination, both districts defended the orders,

DeSantis later vowed to appeal Cooper’s ruling.

According to the Florida Department of Health, 20,331 children under age 12 tested positive for COVID-19 Aug. 13-19.

The latest total marks a sizable increase from the previous report. From Aug. 6 to Aug. 12, DOH reported 16,754 new COVID-19 cases among the same demographic.

Parents of children with disabilities have filed a separate challenge to DeSantis’ executive order. That lawsuit argues the state’s rules violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at [email protected] or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


7 comments

  • Alex

    August 30, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    DesAnus seeking revenge on the people doing the right thing.

    He took lessons on how to be a nasty, stupid human being from Trump.

  • Andrew Finn

    August 30, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    Hey Corcoran —- In case you have not noticed, Judge Cooper has voided your buddy Emperor DeSantis’ mask edict. As soon as he signs it, your moronic actions are also voided since the edict is un-enforceable !!!!! There’s your ruling —- eat it!!!! You and the Emperor can get together and have a good cry !!!!!!!!!!!

  • PeterH

    August 30, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    Another needless taxpayer funded lawsuit that DeSantis and company will not win!

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 31, 2021 at 4:56 am

    Good god almighty!! These folks are damn traitors Corcoran and Duffus ! Thank you school boards! Protect our children from these uneducated white men! Get out Desantis!

  • Glenn Reihing

    August 31, 2021 at 9:33 am

    So let’s recap…

    1. DeSantis makes a law that school boards are not allowed to issue mask mandates. He threatens school board members by withholding monies if they proceed.

    2. The COURT (emphasizing…not shouting) ruled that DeSantis law is illegal giving school boards the right to issue mask mandates.

    3. Despite losing the court case, DeSantis through his proxy Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, beings to withhold money.

    This is the way an authoritarian with fascist leanings handles things.

  • Andrew Finn

    September 1, 2021 at 9:00 am

    You got that right Glenn — Emperor DeSantis and Vice Emperor Corcoran kinda remind you of another fun loving duo — Hitler and Mussolini. Same fascist tactics from both.

  • Edmund Burke

    September 2, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Excellent start but there needs to be more severe repercussions for the mask Nazi’s if they continue breaking the law.

    My daughter goes to a private school in Broward with NO mask mandate and there have been NO issues. Unfortunately my son who has Downs Syndrome currently has to be subjected to lack of oxygen and filthy masks.

    Thank God we got DeSantis and not the Meth head, gay escort loving Gillum. We would have been SOOO screwed.

Comments are closed.


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