‘We stand with you’: U.S. Education Secretary tells Florida school districts to hold the line against Gov. DeSantis

Coronavirus

TAMPA (WFLA) – U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona is calling school administrators in Alachua and Broward counties – who are now facing loss of income for defying state rules barring mask mandates to hold the line against Gov. DeSantis.

In a statement obtained by News Channel 8 Cardona said:

“The Biden Administration is fully committed to a safe and healthy return to in-person learning for all students this fall. It is deeply troubling to see state leaders putting politics ahead of the health and safety of our students, and that instead of supporting our educators for doing the right thing, state leaders are trying to punish them. This week, the President asked me to do everything I can to help protect our nation’s students and support the local leaders who are fighting for them.”

“Let me reiterate: we stand ready to assist any district facing repercussions for imposing CDC-recommended COVID-19 prevention strategies that will protect the health and safety of students, educators, and staff. To that end, we’ve also made clear to district leaders that any financial penalties imposed by the state can be addressed immediately using CARES, CRRSA, or American Rescue Plan funds. Today, I also spoke directly to the Superintendents of Broward and Alachua County schools to reassure them that the President and his Administration stand with them and with all educators who put student and staff health and education first.”

“The Biden Administration is fully committed to a safe and healthy return to in-person learning for all students this fall. It is deeply troubling to see state leaders putting politics ahead of the health and safety of our students, and that instead of supporting our educators for doing the right thing, state leaders are trying to punish them. This week, the President asked me to do everything I can to help protect our nation’s students and support the local leaders who are fighting for them. Let me reiterate: we stand ready to assist any district facing repercussions for imposing CDC-recommended COVID-19 prevention strategies that will protect the health and safety of students, educators, and staff. To that end, we’ve also made clear to district leaders that any financial penalties imposed by the state can be addressed immediately using CARES, CRRSA, or American Rescue Plan funds. Today, I also spoke directly to the Superintendents of Broward and Alachua County schools to reassure them that the President and his Administration stand with them and with all educators who put student and staff health and education first.”

The FDOE says Alachua and Broward must “document compliance with the Parents’ Bill of Rights” within 48 hours. If both school districts fail to comply, they must provide Corcoran with information confirming the “current annual compensation provided to all school board members within 48 hours.”

The law provides guardians the right to make decisions on their child(ren)’s education, upbringing, and health care, according to the Florida House of Representatives.

The department said it will then begin withholding from state funds on a monthly basis “an amount equal to 1/12 of the total annual compensation of the school board members who voted to impose the unlawful mask mandates until each district demonstrates compliance.”

A total of five school districts are now defying Department of Health rules mandating a parental opt-out from mask mandates.

In response to the potential for federal interference in the state’s masking policy, DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw said in a statement.

“Forced-maskers often criticize Governor DeSantis for overruling “local control” in his defense of individual rights. Yet they support Biden’s blatant federal overreach. CDC bureaucrats and their inconsistent, politicized “guidance” does not supersede the rights of parents to make health and education decisions for their own children.“

President Biden took to Twitter on Friday evening to reiterate the U.S. government was behind Florida school boards going against Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate.

“Let me be clear: We will do everything we can to support local school districts in safely reopening schools. American Rescue Plan funds can be used to backfill the salaries of the brave Florida school board members, superintendents, and other educators keeping our children safe.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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