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LCS to stick to COVID policy, despite given 48 hours from BOE to comply to state's rule

Posted at 7:02 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 19:02:16-04

LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna made the decision Friday to stick to their COVID-`19 safety policy for now, despite being given 48 hours from the Board of Education to comply with the state's rule.

The Board of Education ruled yesterday that LCS' policy violates the state policy.

BOE gave the eight districts in violation Thursday, including Leon County, 48 hours to change their policy or face fines.

Hanna said that the fines will be about 1/12 of each school board member's salary for the next 12 months.

Their salaries are about $39,000 each, according to Hanna, putting the fines for each member at $3,250 monthly and a combined $26,000 per month for the entire board until they change their policy.

Since Hanna is a superintendent, he said he wouldn't have his salary withheld as ruled by the state board.

However, he said if the school board members aren't getting their salaries neither is he.

"Whether it's forfeiting a salary or potentially being removed from office, a life is worth much more than both of those things," Hanna said.

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.

"We believe that we are in compliance with the parental bill of rights," Hanna said. "We feel as those that we have a compelling state interest of keeping children safe and keeping our schools open and it's only temporary."

The eight school districts in violation, including Leon County, filed a petition against the state on Wednesday, before the state BOE ruled that they were in violation.

"The petition was filed to challenge the rule," LCS attorney Jamie Cole said. "Now assuming we are correct and the rule is invalid. The enforcement decisions made yesterday would be invalid."

Cole represents six counties involved with the petition: Leon, Miami-Dade, Broward, Duval, Orange and Alachua.

After the ruling was made Thursday, State Board of Education Chair Tom Grady wrote:

"While the district school board may not agree with the safety protocols set forth by the Surgeon General... Every school board member and every school superintendent has a duty to comply with the law."

Hanna said at their next meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 12, the LCS school board will decide if they want to change their policy or apply for federal funding.

That funding is slated to pay for any loss of wages and other district-related purchases.

At this time, LCS hasn't received any federal funding.

"I think where the rub is is where does our authority, what authority do we have as local school districts to keep all children safe," Hanna said."