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Florida school districts appeal mask mandate ban ruling

Posted at 11:25 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 12:35:49-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — An appeals process is now underway as six Florida School districts work to protect local authority and overturn the state's mask mandate ban.

At the direction of state leaders, the Department of Health issued an emergency order Sept. 22 that required districts to allow parents to opt their children out of wearing a mask without a doctor's signature.

Lawyers representing six contesting school boards hoped to prove the order was unfounded.

"Our view is that in order to have an emergency rule, you need to have an immediate danger, which means something sudden or unforeseen had to have happened," explained attorney Jamie Cole.

That stance failed in court.

"The judge's ruling was based upon his view that it was a continuing danger, that COVID is a continuing danger that is sufficient to justify an immediate danger under the statute," Cole said.

In a written statement, Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna said the ruling is "disappointing," but given challenges faced going up against the Department of Health and the Office of the Governor, not surprising.

In an effort to prevent agencies from having unfettered access to creating similar laws in the future, Cole and his team have already filed an appeal.

"The appellate court will be reviewing the decision of the administrative law judge to determine whether he made any errors," Cole said. "We believe that he made very clear at legal errors because he applied the wrong legal standard, and we do believe that based on the record at the hearing and even based on his factual findings be the rule should be invalidated."

They also plan to request expedited action for another hearing prior to the emergency order's expiration.