TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran announced Monday that the Florida Department of Education will withhold the monthly school board member salaries in Alachua and Broward Counties, as directed by the State Board of Education.
Corcoran and Governor Ron DeSantis argue both districts implemented a mandatory face mask policy that violates parental rights by not allowing a parent or legal guardian to opt-out of their child, as required by Florida Department of Health Emergency Rule 64DER21-12.
On August 20, 2021, the State Board of Education issued the Alachua and Broward County school districts with an Order demanding they comply with state statutes and rule; however, both districts refused.
The Alachua School District responded to Corcoran's letter on Aug. 26, 2021, that the district had not enforced an "unlawful face covering mandate policy against a student, including but not limited to, instances of a student being sent home, reassigned, disciplined, suspended, isolated, stigmatized, warned or harassed due to the student's failure to comply with the School Board of Alachua County's unlawful face covering mandate policy."
“We’re going to fight to protect parent’s rights to make health care decisions for their children. 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,” said Corcoran.
"Our School Board feels the governor is overreaching his authority," said Dr. Rosalind Osgood, the School Board Chair for Broward. "The Constitution of the State of Florida gives local school boards the authority to make policies that govern local school districts. We will provide our response to today’s Order within 48 hours as requested."
The Commissioner of Education and State Board of Education retain the right and duty to impose additional sanctions and take additional enforcement action to bring each school district into compliance with state law and rule.
-Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran
Districts are also forbidden from pulling dollars elsewhere in their budget to backfill losses, an attempt by the state to minimize impacts to the education of students.
"The withholding of funds will continue monthly until each school board complies with state law and rule," Corcoran's issued statement read.
The Centers for Disease Control continues to recommend masking for those vaccinated and unvaccinated while inside schools. Officials believe doing so will slow the spread of the highly infectious delta variant surging in the state and across the country.
The White House has said it will back schools in their defiance.
Corcoran's order has yet to be signed, meaning it’s not yet law but is expected to be on Tuesday.