State Officials Withhold Broward School Board Salaries Over Mask Mandates

broward superintendent
FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2021, file photo, anti-mask and anti-testing protesters shout during a news conference by Broward County Schools Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The news conference followed a school board meeting about COVID-19 testing in schools. A growing number of school board members across the U.S. are resigning or questioning their willingness to serve as meetings have devolved into shouting contests over contentious issues including masks in schools. (Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)

Broward County School Board continues to stand by its decision to require students to wear masks, even as state officials announced consequences for the board members.

On August 30, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran announced that the Florida Department of Education has withheld an amount equal to monthly school board member salaries in Alachua and Broward counties, as directed by the State Board of Education. Funds will continue to be withheld until the districts comply.

“We’re going to fight to protect parent’s rights to make health care decisions for their children,” Corcoran said in a statement. “They know what is best for their children.”

Corcoran said elected officials, like the school board members, cannot pick and choose what laws they want to follow. He said the board members pledged to uphold the Constitution but were not doing so.

Following the announcement, Interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright said data shows that masks are helping to limit the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and as such, the policy will remain in place.

“The health and safety of our students, teachers and staff continue to be our main priorities,” Cartwright said. “As such, BCPS (Broward County Public Schools) will continue to mandate masks, knowing the data shows they help minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our schools.”

The state’s decision to cut funding comes just days after a Florida judge struck down Governor Ron DeSantis’s ban on mask mandates in public schools. Governor DeSantis says he believes parents should be given the choice the opt-out of the policy and plans to appeal the ruling.

So far, only two school districts in Florida have had any consequences imposed by the state. A total of 10 school districts in cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and West Palm Beach, have defied the governor’s order. Those districts represent slightly more than half of the 2.8 million Florida public school students enrolled this year.

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