TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — As anticipated, the Florida Board of Education on Thursday ruled that eight public school districts — including Leon County — violated state policy by mandating face masks for students without the ability for them to opt out.
The board gave the school district 48 hours to comply with the directive or face financial consequences.
The board also authorized Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran to financially sanction the salaries of elected school board members in the eight school districts.
Meaning, Leon County School Board members’ salaries will be withheld monthly until they comply with the DOH ruling.
Under the school district's current policy, Pre-K through eighth-grade students can only opt-out of wearing a mask if they can show medical documents that excuse them.
In a press release, the Chair of the School Board said the following about the ruling.
“Every school board member and every school superintendent has a duty to comply with the law, whether they agree with it or not. While the district school board may not agree with the safety protocols set forth by the Surgeon General, the Surgeon General is the person who, under the law, sets protocols to mitigate COVID-19 in schools. Elected school board members should set a good example for our leaders of tomorrow. Instead, they are telling our younger generations that it is perfectly acceptable to pick and choose what laws they follow because they disagree with the underlying policy. That is simply unacceptable and antithetical to our Constitution.”
Commissioner Corcoran also condemned the school districts in the press release.
“For nearly two months now, these school districts have barred from the school house doors thousands of children, many of whom have significant disabilities or health-related reasons that prevent them from learning with a face mask on. What’s so equally disturbing about these school board members’ gross violations of law, violations of law that are now receiving unprecedented and self-gratifying federal patronage from a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., is that weeks of positivity rate data now shows no difference in districts with unlawful mask mandates versus those communities that protect parents’ rights. Forced masking is a failure and these board members have truly failed to lead and failed their oaths of office.”