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Florida’s DeSantis threatens to withhold salaries of school officials if they enforce mask mandate


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis threatens to withhold salaries of school district superintendents or board members if they defy his executive order banning compulsory face masks for students

  • DeSantis threatened to withhold the salaries of superintendents and school board members who defy his executive order prohibiting mask mandates  
  • Last Friday, he issued an executive order banning mask mandates in schools and threatening to withhold funding from school districts if they did not comply
  • He has since offered to pay private school tuition for families who fear they’ll be  ‘COVID-shamed’ for not wanting their kids to wear masks in class  
  • Two superintendents of some of Florida’s school districts have released defiant responses to DeSantis’ threats 
  • COVID-19 cases are surging across the Sunshine State with officials recording the highest tally of new infections Friday since the start of the pandemic

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold salaries from school superintendents or board members who ignore his executive order banning compulsory face masks for students.

The GOP governor issued a statement containing his latest salvo against pro-maskers Monday, after taking action to ban compulsory masks in Sunshine State schools and offering to pay private school tuition for parents who fear they’ll be shamed for refusing to cover their kids’ faces. 

De Santis’s statement read ‘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.’

‘Education funding is intended to benefit students first and foremost, not systems. The Governor’s priorities are protecting parents’ rights and ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education that meets their unique needs.’ 

Ronald DeSantis faces backlash in Florida after threatening to cut school officials’ salaries if they put mask wearing mandates in place

Anti-mask protesters rally outside the Hillsborough County Schools Board meeting at the district office on July 27

Anti-mask protesters rally outside the Hillsborough County Schools Board meeting at the district office on July 27

The statement was released in the midst of an ongoing battle over mandating masks in schools, a topic that has caused division in school districts across the state as the Delta variant continues to spread before the start of the new school year.

At least one superintendent offered an immediate and defiant response to DeSantis’s salary threat. Leon County School Superintendendent Rocky Hanna told school officials on Monday that ‘you can’t put a price tag on someone’s life including my salary.’

She added: ‘We want to make sure that children also have access to a high quality education but they can’t if they’re sick and in the hospital.’

Her response came hours before she announced in the state’s capital, Tallahassee, will be required to wear masks as the upcoming school year begins. 

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who runs the fourth largest school district in the nation, took a similar stance to Hanna’s and criticized DeSantis for trying to influence superintendent’s decisions by threatening their paychecks.

Carvalho said: ‘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.’

‘I want to thank the Governor for recognizing that students should not be penalized.’

Protesters in favor of a mask mandate hold protest signs at the Pinellas County Schools Administration Building in Largo, Florida

Protesters in favor of a mask mandate hold protest signs at the Pinellas County Schools Administration Building in Largo, Florida

Late last month, DeSantis issued an executive order that prohibits county school boards from imposing masking requirements on students. 

And just last week, the Department of Health and Department of Education released emergency rules to allow parents to make the decision for their children to wear masks.

COVID-19 cases are surging across the Sunshine State with officials recording 12,864 hospitalizations related to the pandemic.

It's been reported that a fifth of all new COVID-related cases in Florida are attributed to children, according to The Florida Hospital Association

It’s been reported that a fifth of all new COVID-related cases in Florida are attributed to children, according to The Florida Hospital Association

Florida set an all-time record for COVID hospitalizations on Friday, with 12,864 hospitalized in a single day

Florida set an all-time record for COVID hospitalizations on Friday, with 12,864 hospitalized in a single day

The Florida Hospital Association reported 22,783 new cases Friday - another record high from 21,683 reported on June 30

The Florida Hospital Association reported 22,783 new cases Friday – another record high from 21,683 reported on June 30

Since last Tuesday, records breaking surges have been recorded when there were 10,389 patients – soaring past the previous peak of 10,170 hospitalizations on July 23 2020. 

The Florida Hospital Association reported 22,783 new cases Friday – another record high from 21,683 reported on June 30. A fifth of all news cases have been attributed to children.

The state releases its data just once a week on a Friday and is expected to show an increase in cases for the seventh week in a row.

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