Hillsborough, Sarasota Schools Hold Firm On Mask Mandates Despite State Threats To Withhold Pay
Both counties sent letters to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran saying they believe they are in compliance by allowing only medical exemptions to their mandates.
School districts that passed mask mandates with only medical opt-outs are being targeted by the state despite a court ruling on Friday that says Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order banning them was an overreach.
Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has notified at least 10 Florida school districts that they are enforcing mask mandates that are in violation of a new Department of Health rule.
Hillsborough and Sarasota counties sent letters in response to Corcoran saying they're in compliance by allowing only medical exemptions to their mandates.
Corcoran previously announced that school board members in Alachua and Broward counties will have their pay withheld for violating the executive order.
Charles Gallagher, one of the attorneys representing parents who sued the state in favor of mask requirements, said the state has no legal backing to punish these districts:
"I don't see how anybody can argue that they are unclear of the ruling. And then, you know, act in a way that's contrary to that. So we don't think it's a permissible exercise,” Gallagher said.
Officials had said they would continue to enforce the state rule until a written court order was signed.
Circuit Court Judge John Cooper signed that written order on Thursday afternoon, and the DeSantis administration has filed an appeal.