DeSantis Threatens To Withhold School Officials' Salaries Over Mask Rules

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Holds News Conference In Surfside

Photo: Getty Images

After threatening to withhold funding from Florida school districts if they instituted mask mandates, Gov. Ron DeSantis is now targeting salaries.

According to NBC Miami, a spokesperson for the Republican governor said state public school officials could face "financial consequences" for defying DeSantis' demands to not reintroduce mask mandates in classrooms.

"With respect to enforcing any financial consequences for noncompliance of state law regarding these rules and ultimately the rights of parents to make decisions about their children's education and health care decisions, it would be the goal of the State Board of Education to narrowly tailor any financial consequences to the offense committed," spokesperson Christina Pushaw said in a statement Monday (August 9). "For example, the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of law."

The Sunshine State has been marred by a spike in coronavirus hospitalizations and cases, mostly driven by the Delta variant. Florida is one of the few states that has become an epicenter for the virus, and DeSantis has refused to make changes to curb the spread.

"The Florida Department of Health issued a rule last week that districts must allow parents to decide whether their children will wear masks," reporters wrote. "Florida’s Board of Education approved an emergency rule granting private school vouchers for children who feel they are being harassed by a district’s COVID-19 safety policies, including mask requirements."

Some school districts have planned on moving forward with mask mandates despite the governor's threats.

Leon County Schools announced that pre-kindergarten through eighth grade will be required to wear masks. Miami-Dade County Public Schools said they haven't made a decision on face coverings, but Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he won't be determined by a revoked salary.

"We have established a process that requires consultation with experts in the areas of public health and medicine. We will follow this process, which has served us well, and then make a final decision," Carvalho's statement read. "At no point shall I allow my decision to be influenced by a threat to my paycheck; a small price to pay considering the gravity of this issue and the potential impact to the health and well-being of our students and dedicated employees. I want to thank the Governor for recognizing that students should not be penalized."

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