At a special meeting today, the Leon County School Board voted 5-0 to approve Superintendent Rocky Hanna’s request for $50,000 to hire outside counsel to challenge the State’s requirements that parents be given the ability to opt-out their children from mask mandates.
On July 30, 2021, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-175, which directed the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Education to immediately adopt rules designed to make sure that any COVID-related safety protocols established in schools do not, among other things, violate a parents’ right under Florida law to make health care decisions for their minor children, citing the Parent’s Bill of Rights (HB 21), which was signed into law on June 29, 2021 (Ch. 2021-199, Laws of Florida).
On August 8, 2021, the Florida Department of Health adopted emergency rule 64DER21-12, which requires schools to allow parents to opt minor children out of any mask mandate that is imposed.
On August 23, 2021, based on a review of District specific data showing high positivity rates among students for the preceding two-week period, the Superintendent issued a district wide mask mandate for students in pk-8 with a medical only opt out.
On Friday, August 27, 2021, the Superintendent and Board Chair received a notice of noncompliance from Commissioner Corcoran. The Superintendent and the District’s General Counsel contacted the Weiss Serota law firm to discuss the pursuit of legal avenues which would affirm the School Board’s authority under the Florida Constitution and Florida Statutes to institute temporary mask requirements during a public health emergency. This law firm currently represents at least one other school district in Florida on the same fundamental issue.