The Florida State Board of Education is holding an emergency meeting Tuesday to considering sanctioning the Broward County Public Schools district over its mask mandate.
In a memorandum to the district, Commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote that he believes there is probable cause Broward’s school board and interim superintendent Vickie Cartwright “acted contrary to the law.”
“If the State Board of Education determines that a district is unwilling or able to comply with the law or state board rule, it is authorized to impose sanctions in order to secure compliance, including the withholding of funds and reporting to the legislature,” the memo read in part.
NBC 6’s Julia Bagg has more on the ruling and why Gov. Ron DeSantis says he supports it.
Last week, the Broward school board voted 8-1 to require masks for students and teachers when they return Wednesday for the 2021-22 school year. Parents who want to opt out can do so with a medical waiver.
“Kudos to our administration and the district for leading the charge on that and making sure that everyone is going to be safe coming back to school,” said algebra teacher Jennifer Simplice.
The decision was made in defiance of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attempts to block schools from imposing mandates. The Republican governor has insisted that the decision about wearing masks should be made by parents.
“We know the reality of this pandemic that’s killing people or leaving them dramatically impacted with life-long implications. About 48,000 of our children under 12 don’t have an option for a vaccine,” said Dr. Rosalind Osgood of the Broward school board. “As we continue to work, we will continue to bring these policies. It will be ongoing as the nature of this pandemic changes.”
DeSantis’ office said that the state’s Board of Education could move to withhold salaries from superintendents or school board members who impose mask mandates.
Over the weekend, President Joe Biden called school district superintendents in Florida and Arizona, including Cartwright, to “thank them for their leadership and discuss their shared commitment to getting all students back in safe, full-time in-person learning this school year” after their respective boards implemented mask requirements in defiance of their Republican governors amid growing COVID-19 infections.
“The President commended their leadership and courage to do the right thing for the health and well-being of their students, teachers, and schools,” a statement from the White House said.
The Biden administration has promised Broward federal money if Florida’s governor carries out a threat to withhold some state funds from any school district that imposes a mask mandate.
President Joe Biden is praising a Broward school chief for implementing mask requirements.