October 7, 2021
FDOE Press Office
State Board of Education Sanctions School Districts for Failure to Follow the Law
~ Board Action Prohibits the Federal Circumvention of State Laws ~
Tallahassee, Fla., October 7, 2021 – Due to school districts’ persistent violations of students’ and families’ educational and privacy rights, including literally barring many students with special needs from a free and appropriate public education, today the State Board of Education (SBOE) authorized Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran to financially sanction the salaries of elected school board bureaucrats in eight school districts. Elected school board members in Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Duval, Leon, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Palm Beach counties have willingly and knowingly violated the rights of students and parents by denying them the option to make personal and private health care and educational decisions for their children, and district leaders in Alachua and Broward have further unlawfully accepted political bailouts from federal co-conspirators to compensate them for breaking Florida law.
“Every school board member and every school superintendent has a duty to comply with the law, whether they agree with it or not. While the district school board may not agree with the safety protocols set forth by the Surgeon General, the Surgeon General is the person who, under the law, sets protocols to mitigate COVID-19 in schools,” said State Board of Education Chair Tom Grady. “Elected school board members should set a good example for our leaders of tomorrow. Instead, they are telling our younger generations that it is perfectly acceptable to pick and choose what laws they follow because they disagree with the underlying policy. That is simply unacceptable and antithetical to our Constitution.”
“For nearly two months now, these school districts have barred from the school house doors thousands of children, many of whom have significant disabilities or health-related reasons that prevent them from learning with a face mask on,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “What’s so equally disturbing about these school board members’ gross violations of law, violations of law that are now receiving unprecedented and self-gratifying federal patronage from a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., is that weeks of positivity rate data now shows no difference in districts with unlawful mask mandates versus those communities that protect parents’ rights. Forced masking is a failure and these board members have truly failed to lead and failed their oaths of office.”
- Florida law requires districts and schools to establish and implement various protocols consistent with the Parents’ Bill of Rights, including and directing that action “protect parents’ right to make health care decisions such as masking of their children in relation to COVID-19.”
- On August 9, 2021, The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) issued Emergency Rule 64DER21-12, Florida Administrative Register, Vol. 47, No. 153, and on September 23, 2011, FDOH issued Emergency Rule 64DER21-15, Florida Administrative Register, Vol. 47 / No. 185, protecting a parent or legal guardian’s ability to choose whether their child wears or does not wear a face covering or mask in school – rules that these school districts intentionally violated.
- Each district was provided notice and grace to correct their policies in an attempt to find an amicable resolution and respect the state and federally protected educational and privacy rights of students and families – to no avail.
- Therefore, the SBOE has directed and authorized Commissioner Corcoran to take action to bring these school districts into compliance with the law. The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) previously withheld the salary of school board members in Alachua and Broward Counties in August and September 2021.
- Pursuant to the SBOE Orders issued by the SBOE, Commissioner Corcoran is authorized to take further action against the elected board members of these school districts to bring their district into compliance with state law.
- Furthermore, the FDOE is directed to withhold state funds “in an amount equal to any federal Project SAFE Grand funds, or successor grants” awarded to districts for their noncompliance with Emergency Rule 64DER21-15.
- Critically, the Orders will clearly state each district may not permit the reduction of funds that impact student services or teacher pay.