Trial begins for Florida parents’ lawsuit over DeSantis mask mandate

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The battle over mask mandates in Florida schools is heading to court.

A group of parents in Florida, including some in Tampa Bay are suing Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education, challenging their authority to ban school mask mandates.

The defendants say school districts with mask mandates are violating the Parents’ Bill of Rights, a controversial law signed in June, which gives parents the right to make health decisions for their children. This includes the decision to wear masks in schools, according to DeSantis.

In late July, the governor issued an executive order that bans mask mandates in Florida schools and gives the Florida Board of Education the authority to withhold funding from districts requiring masks without a choice for parents to opt-out.

Despite the threat, seven school districts, including Hillsborough and Sarasota counties’, have imposed mask mandates.

Four families from Tampa and St. Petersburg are suing the governor, calling the ban on mask mandates government overreach.

“Especially coming from a Republican governor. The Republican Party is supposed to be the party of local control and small government, and so when you don’t allow locally-elected officials to make their own decisions, then you can’t base it on the needs of the community,” said DaMaris Allen, one of the parents named in the lawsuit.

Last week, their lawsuit challenging the mask mandate ban saw its first day in court, and a judge ruled it had a right to trial.

Meanwhile, the governor is facing a second lawsuit from a local group of parents of children with special needs. They argue the ban on mask mandates endangers their children and violates their rights.

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