Promises kept: DeSantis threatens to withhold salaries of school officials who defy order on mask mandates

Governor Ron DeSantis stuck to his promise to “stand in the way” of anyone “trying to restrict people and impose mask mandates” on Tuesday with his announcement that he would withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who attempt to defy his executive order banning mask mandates.

The governor’s office released a statement explaining the goal of the decision– to tailor consequences so that they only impact offenders of the order:

“With respect to enforcing any financial consequences for noncompliance of state law regarding these rules and ultimately the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s education and health care decisions, it would be the goal of the State Board of Education to narrowly tailor any financial consequences to the offense committed. For example, the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law,” the statement read, according to WFOR-TV.

The statement continued on, noting that education funding is meant “to benefit students first and foremost, not systems.”

DeSantis’ priority remains “protecting parents’ rights and ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education that meets their unique needs.”

The Florida Governor reiterated that sentiment in a press conference about the new action, where he maintained that it is parents, not school systems, who have the “fundamental right to raise their children” without the government intervening.

(Source: CBS 4)

“As a parent, I would like that choice…many of these kids have recovered from COVID and so there’s no scientific justification to put it on at that point if it was there to begin with,” DeSantis argued regarding the efficacy of masks for children.

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who runs the fourth largest school district in the nation, released a statement in response to the order.

“We have established a process that requires consultation with experts in the areas of public health and medicine. We will follow this process, which has served us well, and then make a final decision. At no point shall I allow my decision to be influenced by a threat to my paycheck; a small price to pay considering the gravity of this issue and the potential impact to the health and well-being of our students and dedicated employees” Carvalho said, adding his thanks to DeSantis for recognizing that students should not be penalized.

Miguel Cardona, US Secretary of Education voiced his fear that decisions like these could ultimately disrupt the school year for students again at a White House press conference according to WFOR-TV.

“We know what to do. Don’t be the reason why schools are disrupted because of the politicization of this effort to reopen schools. We know what works. We have to keep our students safe. We have to keep our educators safe,” Cardona stated.

The announcement comes just one week after DeSantis criticized President Joe Biden’s mandate that forces children as young as kindergartners to mask up in schools, saying that in Florida, that decision would be left up to parents.

Miami-Dade and Broward schools are expected to make a decision regarding mask mandates sometime next week.

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