Florida Gov. After an appeals court stopped a judge's order blocking the state ban on Friday, Ron DeSantis will be able to bar local school districts mandating masks. This is a controversial policy that the White House has criticised and which some Florida communities have flouted.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Miami at Jackson Memorial Hospital on July 13, 2020. AFP via Getty Images
The Key Facts
According to Friday's court filing, the state's 1st Circuit Court of Appeal overturned a previous ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper that struck down DeSantis' mask mandate ban. This allowed the governors policy to continue in effect as the legal challenge moves through the Florida courts system. This is the latest legal drama surrounding the DeSantis ban. Cooper had struck it down in August following a lawsuit by parents. Cooper then removed the stay and blocked the policy again Wednesday. Cooper claimed that Florida law requires judges to stay orders only after they are appealed or modified by public officials. Cooper should not have lifted the stay. DeSantis tweeted that the ruling was not surprising and claimed that the appeals court had restored parents' rights to make the best decisions about their children.
Florida has banned school districts from mandating mask-wearing, unless parents are allowed to opt out. State education officials threatened to reduce funding for school boards and superintendents if districts don't comply with the rule. DeSantis described the policy as a parental choice initiative, but local officials and families claim the rule hinders districts' ability to protect students from a rising tide of coronavirus-related infections. Several other Republican-controlled states like Texas and Oklahoma have also tried to ban local mask mandates via legislation or executive order, sparking legal challenges.
DeSantis order has been ignored by at least 12 local school districts. They have also imposed mask mandates in major cities, such as Miami and Orlando. Broward County and Alachua County were informed by the state that it would withhold funding and threatened to withdraw funding from other countries.
The Biden administration has been critical of Florida's policy. The U.S. Department of Education launched civil rights investigations in Florida and four other states that had restrictions on mask mandates. These investigations were to determine if these policies discriminate against students who are disabled. The White House offered to reimburse school districts that are not receiving funding due to restrictions at the state level on mask mandates.
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