A court ruled that school districts can enforce temporary mask mandates to contain COVID -19, but Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has begun withholding money from the Broward and Alachua school districts, who went against the governor’s now-invalidated order.
Corcoran said he is following through on the orders of the State Board of Education, which directed him to review options for punishing the school districts that defied an emergency rule by the Department of Health prohibiting school districts from mandating that students wear face coverings in school.
Broward and Alachua counties were the first two school districts to impose a mandatory mask requirement and, the Board of Education ordered Corcoran to pursue penalties.
The funds, which he said amounted to "the monthly school board member salaries," would continue to be withheld in Alachua and Broward counties until the school districts complied.
"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 said.
"Our School Board members made a courageous decision to protect the health and lives of students, staff and the people of this community, and a court has already ruled they had the legal right to do so. They deserve praise, not penalties," Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Carlee Simon said.
Broward County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said she believed the school district was also in compliance with the law.