Florida Withholds School Board Salaries as Two Districts Defy DeSantis' Ban on Mask Mandates
© AP Photo / Wilfredo LeeFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a COVID-19 testing site, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. First responders and people over 65 years-old began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday during a trial run of the site which will open to seniors at a later date. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
© AP Photo / Wilfredo Lee
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) issued an Executive Order earlier this month prohibiting the implementation of mask mandates in any applicable space, including schools. As the state continues to be a COVID-19 hotspot, DeSantis claims the order, in part, restores a parent's right to have a say in their child's education and healthcare decisions.
Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran issued a memo on Monday confirming the withholding of monthly school board member salaries in both Alachua and Broward County.
The effort, executed by the Florida Department of Education in accordance with DeSantis' order, came as a response to both of the districts implementing mandatory face mask policies on school grounds.
The mask mandate "violates parental rights by not allowing a parent or legal guardian to opt-out their child," according to the memo.
"We’re going to fight to protect parent’s rights to make healthcare decisions for their children. They know what is best for their children," Corcoran said in a quoted statement. "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."
The state will continue withholding the school board officials' monthly salaries "until each school board complies with state law and rule."
As of August 28, the state was estimated to have a 7-day average positive COVID-19 test rate of 19.31%, according to Mayo Clinic data. Additionally, daily cases of the disease and its highly transmissible variant have averaged to 111 cases per 100,000 individuals.
Despite the alarming numbers, the state is observing a glimmer of hope when it comes to hospitalizations, which fell for the first time in eight weeks on Monday.
The Florida Hospital Association reported that a total of 15,488 hospitalizations were logged on August 30 - a sharp 10% decline from the August high of 16,973 hospitalizations.