Florida Threatens to Take Federal Funds Given to Broward Schools by Biden

by Sheri-Kae McLeod

broward schools mask
FILE - In this Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021 file photo, Students, some wearing protective masks, arrive for the first day of school at Sessums Elementary School in Riverview, Fla. President Joe Biden has called school district superintendents in Florida and Arizona, praising them for doing what he called “the right thing” after their respective boards implemented mask requirements in defiance of their Republican governors amid growing COVID-19 infections. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

A week after the Biden administration awarded Broward Schools over $420,000 to support their decision to keep a mask mandate, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has threatened to take that money away.

Corcoran sent a letter to the State Board of Education on Monday asking for more financial penalties for the Broward School District for disobeying the Governor’s orders.

The letter asked the state board to “withhold state funds in an amount equal to 1/12 of all school board members’ salaries, as well as withholding state funds in an amount equal to any federal grant funds awarded to” Broward’s school district.

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The threat is the latest in a two-month battle between state officials and Broward schools over mask mandates for students.

Earlier this week, some Broward parents gathered in protest, trying to convince the school board to comply with the governor’s order. During the school board meeting, Christine Shapiro, a parent at Broward Schools, said it is frustrating that the board won’t allow parents to make the decisions.

“I understand that you guys are trying to find a middle ground but it is still breaking the law. For the parents that are watching their children suffer, it is frustrating to feel ignored and unheard,” she said.

Despite the requests and threats, Broward School Board refused to budge. On Tuesday, they voted 8 to 1 to maintain the mask mandate, which allows an exemption only for medical conditions. The protocols will stay in place until COVID positivity rates sit at or below 3% for 10 days, in addition to the 66% vaccination rate already achieved.

Chair of the board, Dr Rosalind Osgood said she won’t be risking the lives of people in the community.

“I’m not willing to risk anybody’s life — student or staff,” said Rosalind Osgood, chair of the Broward school board. “I wouldn’t do it with my children, my grandchildren, or myself,” she said.

In the meantime, other South Florida counties, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach may also face penalties for their mask rules. The state’s Department of Education will meet Thursday to consider possible punishments.

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