The Education Department announced this week that it sent $148,000 on Sept. 23 to Alachua County school board members who voted to mandate masks in schools in spite of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s executive order banning mask mandates.
“With these grants, we’re making sure schools and communities across the country that are committed to safely returning to in-person learning know that we have their backs,” he continued. “I commend Alachua for protecting its students and educators, and I look forward to working with them to provide students their best year yet.”
DeSantis’s executive order directs the state to withhold funding from any district that requires children to wear masks in public schools. As a result, the state’s Education Department withheld the salaries of each of the Alachua school board members.
Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’s press secretary, argued the Biden administration’s effort to reward school districts that defy the state shows “they don’t believe parents have a right to choose what’s best for their children,” according to NBC News.
“Just a couple of months ago, the Biden administration said that Florida would be violating federal requirements by providing $1,000 bonuses to teachers and principals,” she said. “Therefore, it’s ironic that the federal government is now using taxpayer funding for education to pay the salaries of elected school board members.”
Florida’s DOE also is withholding the salaries of Broward County school board members, who similarly voted to mandate masks in schools.
The department said the funds would continue to be denied “until each school board complies with state law and rules.”
In response, Broward County Public Schools interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said she would continue to violate state law anyway.
“The health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff continue to be our main priorities,” she said. “As such, BCPS will continue to mandate masks.”