Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has asked an appeals court to overturn last month’s ruling by a district judge that said the governor’s forbidding schools to require student masks didn’t “pass Constitutional muster.”
DeSantis, a Republican, filed for relief yesterday in the 1st District Court of Appeal, in Tallahassee, asking the court to reverse last week’s decision by Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper that gives Florida’s 67 Boards of Education the power to require students to wear a mask, regardless of parental consent.
Cooper, a judge with the Second Circuit Court of Florida, was first elected to his position in 2002. He conducted a four-day online trial last month before issuing his 37-page ruling that sided with the parents of school children who argued the executive order violates school districts’ constitutional rights to require a uniform.
The governor says he is standing by the individual rights of parents while school district leaders say they are protecting the collective health of school children in the face of the surging delta variant of the coronavirus.
School districts have the right to set policies, like mask mandates, as long as they have “compelling state interest” and have a “narrowly tailored” plan of action, Cooper opined.
Broward County was one of the first two school districts to impose a mandatory mask requirements for students returning to school and the state Board of Education ordered Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to pursue penalties.
Corcoran had previously announced the state had begun withholding the equivalent of the school board member salaries in those districts as punishment for what he viewed was a violation of state law. The districts had hoped the state would restore money it has already withheld from Broward and Alachua county school districts when the ruling went into effect. But, then the governor appealed Cooper’s ruling, which was automatically stayed by the DeSantis appeal.
A request for comment emailed to Broward County School District’s Communication Office was not returned before deadline.
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