DeSantis appeals mask mandates in school ruling, cites new ‘Parents Bill of Rights’ law

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is appealing a ruling claiming that he exceeded his authority with his ban on mask mandates in schools as part of his fight to give parents, not school boards, the ability to make decisions based on what is best for their own children’s health.

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled last week that DeSantis’ order was unenforceable and unconstitutional. Cooper’s ruling was automatically stayed by Thursday’s appeal.

DeSantis said earlier this week that he believes the state will win this fight in the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee because of a new law, the Parents Bill of Rights, according to Fox News. The bill gives parents the final authority on their children’s health.

Cooper, however, claims that the bill doesn’t require that a mask mandate include a parental opt-out at all.

“We’ll end up getting it back. Obviously [Cooper’s ruling], it’s problematic,” the governor told reporters of his confidence in the appeal process.

DeSantis wants to return power to the parents of school-age children as woke school boards, empowered by woke politicians and judges, encroach on the rights of children and parents.

The Florida governor maintains the importance of parents and children being able to opt-out of mandates that don’t suit them.

Cooper, for his part, claimed the ruling was consistent with the evidence and CDC guidance.

On the right to choose whether or not to mask up, Cooper reportedly said, “We don’t have that right because exercising the right in that way is harmful or potentially harmful to other people.”

“It’s not surprising that Judge Cooper would rule against parents’ rights and their ability to make the best educational and medical decisions for their family, but instead rule in favor of elected politicians. This ruling was made with incoherent justifications, not based in science and facts — frankly not even remotely focused on the merits of the case presented,” DeSantis’ Communications Director Taryn Fenske said in a statement following the ruling, according to many reports.

Thirteen school boards in districts across Florida voted to defy DeSantis’ initial mandate citing the surge of the Delta variant. What remains unclear is the science these school boards claim to blindly follow as they impose mandates that are reportedly devastating to the development of children already stunted by more than a year of distanced learning.

DeSantis’ order would withhold the salaries of any education officials imposing sweeping mask mandates. The Biden administration has promised federal dollars to any district that experiences a loss in funding for imposing mask mandates.

Over 2.8 million Florida students– the majority of public school pupils– are subject to mask mandates with no choice to opt-out. The Volusia County School District will be the 13th district to enforce mask mandates as of September 7th.

Kay Apfel

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