Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has given 48 hours to Florida school districts that have defied his anti-mask rules to reverse course or lose state funding equal to the salaries of their school board members.
As reported by ABC news, the Florida Department of Education on Friday sent a letter the districts in Alachua and Broward counties on behalf of the governor saying that “if they do not reverse their mandates in two days, the districts will have to provide Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran the current salaries of each school board member.”
In the letter, the department said will start gradually withholding state funds — equal to 1/12 of the salaries of the board members, monthly — “until each district demonstrates compliance,” according to ABC News.
Friday’s crackdown came after weeks of threats from the education department and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, including an emergency meeting of the state board Tuesday in which the chair, Tom Grady, suggested that sanctions against Alachua and Broward could include removing school officials from their elected posts.
However, leaders in both school districts said that they will not reverse their mask mandates and will take legal action against the state.
“It’s not legal what the governor is doing. We think he has overstepped his purview,” Dr. Rosalind Osgood, chair of the Broward County School Board, told ABC News.
“Based on the dramatic spike in cases and quarantines in our schools and community, we believe universal masking is absolutely critical to keeping schools open, protecting the health of our students and staff, and limiting the current strain on our local health care system,” Dr. Carlee Simon, superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools, said in a statement.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said on Friday he supported both districts, adding in a statement that President Joe Biden and his administration “stand with them and with all educators who put student and staff health and education first.”
The school districts in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, and Palm Beach counties also voted this week to impose mask mandates for students.