The Florida Department of Education is withholding school board members’ salaries in Alachua and Broward counties for defying Governor Ron DeSantis‘ ban on mask mandates.
The Director of Communications for Florida’s Department of Education, Jared Ochs, wrote an email to NBC News confirming that the School Board members will have their funds withheld.
“Our Department plans on continuing to follow the rule of law until such time as the Court issues its ruling, and subsequent to that ruling, we plan on immediately appealing this decision to the First DCA, from which we will seek to stay the ruling,” Ochs wrote in the email.
School Board members say that they will continue to honors parents and their right to decide for their children despite the Governor’s ban.
“We’re going to protect parent’s rights to make health care decisions for their children. They know what is best for their children,” Richard 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.”
Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper ruled that the ban was unconstitutional last Friday.
“The actions of the defendants [DeSantis] do not pass constitutional muster,” the Judge said. “They seek to deprive the school boards in advance.”
School Board members in both countries will not receive their pay until they comply with the Governor’s order.
Superintendent for Alachua County Public Schools, Carlee Simon, said that she is “very troubled” and wants to “ensure that Florida’s districts have the right to act in the best interests of those they serve.”
Vickie Cartwright, the Interim Superintendent for Broward County Public Schools, shared similar sentiments.
“The health and safety of our students, teachers and staff continue to be our main priorities. As such, BCPS will continue to mandate masks, knowing the data shows they help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our schools,” Cartwright said. “As previously stated, this decision will be reviewed by the School Board after Labor Day as conditions may change and modification may be appropriate.”
Governor DeSantis signed an executive order in July to ban mask mandates in schools.
“In Florida, there will be no lockdowns, there will be no school closures, there will be no restrictions and no mandates in the state of Florida,” Governor DeSantis said in July at a restaurant in Cape Coral, Florida, where he announced his executive order.
The Florida Governor is appealing Judge Cooper’s ruling and is confident that things will work in his favor.
“I thought about this and then thought about what if the reverse happened? What if a district banned anyone from wearing masks. I’ll bet you you have parents sue under the Parents Bill of Rights, say ‘Hey, wait a minute I think this is in the best interest of my child to go to school,’ to where you know what? I think they would win on that and so it’ll be appealed. We’ll end up getting it back,” Governor DeSantis said.