Judge’s written order says state can’t enforce mask mandate ban; Gov. DeSantis appeals
The pandemic is taking a toll on schoolchildren. Image via AP.

school mask
The Department of Education has been enforcing the executive order despite the judge's oral decision last week.

A Leon County judge has issued his written ruling curbing Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ mask mandate ban, and in it he prohibits the DeSantis administration from enforcing the Governor’s executive order. Attorneys for DeSantis immediately asked for the 1st District Court of Appeal to overturn Circuit Court Judge John Cooper‘s ruling.

The order, submitted Thursday, is the written version of an oral decision Cooper issued Friday. Despite the prior oral decision, the state had continued enforcing rules against school districts that required masks for students without allowing parents to opt out. The state said it was waiting for Cooper’s written order.

“If  the Defendants strictly enforce the Executive Order, the Department of Health rule, or any other policy prohibiting mask mandates without a parental opt-out, then they are acting without authority and are refusing to comply with all provisions of the law,” Judge Cooper wrote, referring to the Parents’ Bill of Rights.

The suing parents’ attorneys argued DeSantis “wrongfully assumes that state authorities can better determine the local health risks and educational needs of students and teachers.”

But the state’s lawyers stood by DeSantis’ assertion that a parent’s right to opt their children from mask mandates falls within the Parents’ Bill of Rights he signed into law in June, providing parents freedom from the state and public schools in how they raise their children, including regarding health matters.

However, Cooper said the state ignored the full Parents’ Bill of Rights intent. The mask mandate ban preemptively prohibits mask requirements without allowing school districts to prove the measures are reasonable, a step he said the bill required.

The state cannot enforce a blanket mandate against mandatory face masks by school boards, he wrote. The same goes for a statewide order, like the Governor’s. School boards must first be given the chance to prove their policies were reasonable before they can be punished.

“By passing the Parents’ Bill of Rights, the Florida Legislature necessarily recognized the importance of parental rights. But it also recognized that parents’ rights are not immune to some reasonable limitation depending upon safety and reasonableness and compelling state need regarding health care or condition of the child,” Cooper wrote.

Cooper did not strike the Department of Health’s emergency rule against face mask bans because the parents did not include the Health Department in the lawsuit. The parents’ lawyers tried to fix that error at the start of the trial, but Cooper ruled it was too late to add them.

Cooper’s decision followed a week of hearings in a lawsuit from parents hoping to defeat DeSantis’ executive order. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the parents of school children, argues the executive order violates school districts’ constitutional rights to require a uniform.

In the time between Cooper’s oral decision and his written ruling, the Department of Education announced it had started withholding funds from school districts that violated the mask mandate ban. And Wednesday afternoon, Attorney General Ashley Moody advised the Suwannee County School District that the mandate ban is still the law.

“The judiciary has not declared the rule to be invalid, and as such, this advisory opinion clearly states that multiple school districts are breaking the law by violating parents’ rights,” Education Department spokesman Jared Ochs said in a statement Wednesday. “Today, the Department is urging every school district that has mandated masks without an opt out to promptly change its policies and comply with Florida’s rules and laws.”

That followed a statement from Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran Monday, when the department announced it had withheld funds from Alachua and Broward county school districts the week before. However, Cooper made it clear that he ordered the Education Department to stop enforcing a blanket ban on mask mandates or attempting to enforce DeSantis’ executive order “and the policies it caused to be generated and any resulting policy or action which violates the Parents’ Bill of Rights.”

Alachua and Broward county school districts were the first of now 12 districts, covering a majority of Florida’s public school students, to go against DeSantis’ executive order that has now been scrubbed, at least for now. The Volusia County School District will be the 13th when it begins its mask mandate on Sept. 7. More than half of Florida’s 2.8 million students are covered by a mask mandate with no opt out.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • PeterH

    September 2, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    Covid infection rates continue to climb as the state faces shortages of health care staff, morgue space and even oxygen for patients. About 16,000 people are hospitalized. 14 temporary refrigerated morgues are arriving to handle the ever accumulation of dead bodies. Crematoriums can’t dispose of Covid bodies fast enough.

    Child infection rates have shot up. School districts — even in Republican strongholds — have rebelled against DeSantis’ anti-mask mandates. And cruise lines are resisting DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban.


    Coffins aren’t a very nice foundation for a candidate’s platform.

  • Alex

    September 2, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    DesAnus knew the written part was coming, but he’s not an honorable man so he chose to continue his unconstitutional overreach.

    This is not someone who should be leading a knitting club.

    • Tom

      September 3, 2021 at 11:23 am

      Pathetic liars all of you, including the new Manchurian recruit n. From a James Bond movie.

      Monoclonal Renegeron has been bought and paid for by previous POTUS 45 and feds. It’s a brilliant move. All Kahones Gov. with his military precision goes around the state for 4 weeks promoting 21 new centers. What do you do, nothing. He has had a dozen people who taken it and recovered. This POTUS didn’t even know we had it. You tom-a-ton Manchurians are an embarrassment. You all repeat the same things. No independent thought.

      On vaccines he made over 50 appearances around the state. Florida is number one on senior vax. His doing. Again, what do U lock dowers do. Nothing, but present false stories.

      Lastly, two FDA docs/scientists resigned in defiance to WH demands on vax approval & demand of third booster. U hypocrites.

      • Patrick Deane

        September 6, 2021 at 12:05 pm

        Why are you Trumper Republican Conservatives so angry and unhappy? You can state your case in an appropriate tone, but no, you have to insult and condescend.

        • PeterH

          September 6, 2021 at 12:37 pm

          First, Tom is not a conservative….. he’s a Trumpster…..and there is a big difference.

          Second, Trumpsters only have two visionary policies to offer America:

          1. Name calling.
          2. Voter suppression.

          In the past fifty years of national elections, today’s GQP has won the popular vote exactly once. (Bush2’s second term)

          Mail in voting ( similar to Florida’s mail in voting system) is not in the Republican Party’s best interest. They will fight the national trend and lose.

  • Lux

    September 2, 2021 at 7:37 pm

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  • Tom

    September 2, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    Two liars Alex’ snd PeterH , Covid Cases dropped. Hospitalization stays are down. Brilliant move by America’s Governor to open up 21 monoclonal centers. Saves peoples lives, Unemployment down to 5.1, 64,000 new jobs created. Thanks you Gov Ron.
    Making a difference for common Floridians.
    Ex military officer moves with precision.
    Just a great leader, a real profile in courage.
    Just do your job Gov Ron as you are.
    Miles to go before we Sleep.

    • Alex

      September 2, 2021 at 9:33 pm

      Still waiting for you to tell me why you didn’t sue the government for them taking your 4th Amendment Rights (yes he did, seriousy!) because you had to wear a mask.

      • Tom

        September 3, 2021 at 10:39 am

        Who the hell are you?
        Chief tyrant judge, chief A hole?
        Go scratch
        I have fourth amendment plaintiff,
        Whey do you know? Or do?
        4th & 2nd under scrutiny,

        Florida 64,000 new jobs
        5.1% unemployment rate.
        N was on other topic page whining bout no more fed unemployment.
        Yeah u gotta work in Florida, not like blue state lockdowns. Please, don’t try your school yard bullying with me.
        I pity the fool.

    • n

      September 2, 2021 at 11:36 pm

      Spoken like a true QAnon supporter. The CDC, NYT and the FL Dept of Health seem to be lying? or could it be you, trying to sell Rons 5M post getting Civid medicine? Does he have a quota he has to fill every week to get his commission?

      • Tom

        September 3, 2021 at 8:41 am

        It’s been paid for in advance. It’s bought, no monies being passed.
        Feds own it. Another great move by POTUS 45. All you Manchurians need analysis.
        Are you that much of a tool, u liberal Dum. Go to work. Alex call a Manchurian meeting. You guys can’t deal with me. Cry eye

    • PeterH

      September 3, 2021 at 12:15 am

      Cases 19,902 –16% 3,291,225
      Tests 114,871 +61% —
      Hospitalized 15,590 –6% —
      Deaths 325 +62% 45,909


      • Tom

        September 3, 2021 at 9:21 am

        U have no clue as usual. Total payroll Manchurian. Your new recruit n is a joke. Florida’s numbers have plateaued. Florida Hosp Assoc says so, announced. Monoclonal saving lives thanks to America’s Gov.
        U can look it up peter h.
        Call predators at Lincoln.
        I heard you are making cuomo hon chair, the fondler!

        How’s Biden/Harris doing? , low and lower approval. High 30’s & low 40’s.
        52% want POTUS 46 to resign.
        45 didn’t get that love, even with Pelosi’s fake impeachments.
        40 seat net swing coming. Cry eye

    • n

      September 3, 2021 at 12:20 am

      He sang at a desk for 1 year of service. Great leader? Hasn’t got a leader bone in his body. He is attempting to be an Authoratorian ruler, where have you been?
      Ha, ha

      • Tom

        September 3, 2021 at 8:49 am

        Total deranged thinking and statements from u n. You just are bitter cause he makes you work, no free bees. He eliminated your fed subsidy. Court ruled against u.
        He did more than all of you Manchurians. I busted your balls, lol whose singing n? His kahones bigger than all of you liberal Dums combined.
        DeSantis, America’s Gov is a great leader. Proven.
        Get this straight you cuomo fondler want a bees. Florida ain’t going blue and lockdown. Not happening. Cry eyes. Wah Wah.

    • Patrick Deane

      September 6, 2021 at 12:09 pm

      There are other news outlets besides Fox News. Profile in Courage? Now that’s funny!

  • Ron Ogden

    September 2, 2021 at 9:51 pm

    The core of the argument that will win on appeal is within this paragraph: “The suing parents’ attorneys argued DeSantis “wrongfully assumes that state authorities can better determine the local health risks and educational needs of students and teachers.”
    The governor rightfully assumes that parents can better determine the local health risks and education needs of their children than can school boards. Plain and simple. Local governance? There is no more local governance than around the kitchen table.

    • Alex

      September 2, 2021 at 9:57 pm

      DesAnus will lose because parents have no right to endanger other kids health and lives.

      You have a right to drink, but you have no right to drink and drive.

      You have the right to free speech, but you do not have the right to yell fire in crowded theater.

      Get it yet?

    • Eric

      September 3, 2021 at 10:57 am

      And when these children get sick, not just from Covid, but from all the ailments kids get, who are these anti-mask, anti-vaccine parents going to run to? You actually think doctors aren’t exhausted and fed up due to the “sheep” following DeSantis’ rediculousness? Have DeSantis’ take the calls in the middle of the night because a child is constipated. This harm being done to our medical community is real. You don’t get the choice to believe and trust your doctor for all other things EXCEPT Covid. Good luck finding a legitimate medical provider who will continue to tolerate this misinformation. Don’t be surprised when this highly outspoken minority finds themselves with medical issues and no doctor to treat them. Why do most of this minority find Jesus when they are on their death beds? Wear a mask, get vaccinated, follow real science. We need to get through this together to survive

    • Patrick Deane

      September 6, 2021 at 12:12 pm

      “Plain and simple” describes your argument.

  • ScienceBLVR

    September 2, 2021 at 10:04 pm

    Here’s something to chew on..there won’t be any classrooms to have or not have mask mandates in if teachers, staff keep dying and no one wants to take their place. My district, Pinellas, can’t get subs, bus drivers, teachers, because they refuse to have a mask mandate. School board wouldn’t even hold a meeting to discuss..it’s so bad now, they are asking district employees and support staff to sub in the classrooms ..they are refusing! If you won’t keep the staff safe with basic measures like masks, you ain’t got no game.

    • Tom

      September 3, 2021 at 6:42 am

      You are a incompetent dis scienceBEAVER!
      Teachers & kids are not dying. Shame on you. Desperate.
      Common knowledge school board districts are tyrannical dictums.

      • n

        September 3, 2021 at 7:01 am

        Do you know what an ass you sound like with your QAnon theories and outright lies?
        You are a fool!

        • Tom

          September 3, 2021 at 8:36 am

          U Dumb fool n, Hardly.
          U have been swearing at this great Gov. Total cocoon Manchurian liberal you are. You can’t take any Contrary post. You were whining bout this great Govs decision on employment and federal stay home from work subsidy being eliminated. Get a job, get a life. U fool.

  • Richard Hoard

    September 3, 2021 at 8:27 am

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  • Lynne Tucker

    September 3, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    Hey Tom,
    I wish you could convince the 3 families in my neighborhood who have 3 separate children under the age of 12 who are hospitalized with COVID-19. Or better yet the 2 teachers who got COVID-19 two weeks after schools with 1 in ICU with ventilator and the other who unfortunately passed away.

    These are actual cases and puts a face on those COVID number that you don’t believe in. The facts are a fact, not matter how you spin it!!

  • melissa farmer

    September 6, 2021 at 12:02 am

    I am 100% sure that our state border is open! All of the Desantis haters and those that fear the non mask wearers/unvaccinated are the reason people are dying should run as fast as they can to NY and the other various states that closed up for a year and now back at it. Maybe when the covid test come in they should attach to the state the people should really be in. When the world floods to FL because we have one of only 2 governors with balls to stand up for people it tends to clog up our hospitals. Wen the same kids, hospital staff, patients get 3-4-5 test each before able to go back to work or school that tends to increase numbers quite a bit too i guess? If we quarantine 30 kids for every 1 positive (may not even be sick) that means 30 going to get a test that never would have. If only we tested these kids all summer long too I wonder what our numbers would be? Sure didn’t soar because school started. I do actually compare our county obituary by the news covid deaths each month and its a joke! Nobody saying covid isn’t real and people have not died but if there were real transparency and not made up lies to scare the public I guarantee there would be way more taking it serious.
    If we want to place blame and “science” you should probably read up on the variants and why they are stronger relating to your life saving vaccines. just sayin.. I am by far not q-anon only smart enough to see that if the govt doesn’t want it known then it doesn’t make the news or social media. Free speech only a one way street. Incorrect info is why censored? How about We decide what to believe and have our own opinion based on Everything Not what someone wants us to see. You don’t hear people pissed off that you wear a mask or in line for your 5th booster (that could simplify your breakthrough virus you still get or carry) so mind your business on the rest of us, after all you are wearing to protect others right? We are willing to take that risk so please don’t do me any favors I havent asked for and Stay Home! Home School! Uber Eats.

Comments are closed.


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