By Ryan Dailey, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — President Joe Biden’s administration on Monday warned top Florida education officials to “reconsider your threatened actions” after the state said it would try to thwart attempts to use federal money to cover salaries of county school-board members who approved student mask requirements.
Eight school boards face state financial penalties because of decisions to enact mask mandates amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Those penalties target amounts of money equal to board member salaries.
The State Board of Education approved imposing the financial penalties, relying on a Sept. 22 emergency rule from the Florida Department of Health that said decisions to opt out of mask requirements are at the “sole discretion” of parents or guardians. The health department’s rule was designed to carry out a July 30 executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis that sought to prevent mask requirements.
Ian Rosenblum, deputy assistant secretary for policy and programs for the U.S. Department of Education, sent a letter Monday to state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to try to stave off an attempt to prevent federal grant funds from making up state money lost by the school boards.
The U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 23 awarded $150,000 to Alachua County to cover the salaries of four school board members, and days later provided $420,000 to backfill salaries for eight Broward County board members.
The federal funding was awarded through a grant program titled Project SAFE, or Supporting America’s Families and Educators.
During an Oct. 7 meeting of the State Board of Education, Corcoran characterized the grants as an attempt by the federal government to “buy off school districts” and to “neutralize and abolish” the state board’s enforcement authority.
As part of the penalties, Corcoran recommended withholding state money to the eight districts in amounts equal to any federal funding they receive.
But Rosenblum pointed to a section of a federal education law that says states “shall not take into consideration payments under this act … in determining … the amount of state aid, with respect to free public education of children.”
“If FLDOE (the Florida Department of Education) moves forward with its planned reduction of state aid to Alachua and Broward, the (federal) department is prepared to initiate enforcement action to stop these impermissible state actions,” Rosenblum wrote.
At least one district whose school board has had salaries threatened by the state has dropped its student mask requirement, as a summer surge in coronavirus cases has died down in recent weeks.
The Brevard County schools on Friday announced the county had reached a benchmark in local cases that would trigger a repeal of its mask policy.
The district published a notice on its website that said the county reached a reduced level of 50 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people and that the district would allow for parental opt-outs of the mask requirement. It included in the notice an opt-out form that does not require documented medical reasons for exemptions.
“This is exactly how the mask mandate was supposed to be used,” School Board Chairwoman Misty Belford said in a statement. “The goal was to protect the health of our students and staff.”
Alachua County on Oct. 19 relaxed its student mask requirement to allow parents of high school students to opt out, but students in kindergarten through eighth grade will be required to wear masks for the next three weeks.
Broward County is keeping its student mask requirement in place despite threats from the state. The district requires students in all schools to wear masks in schools and on school buses.
Meanwhile, an administrative law judge is expected to issue a decision by Nov. 5 in a challenge by six school boards, including Broward and Alachua, to the state Department of Health’s rule aimed at preventing student mask requirements.
LETS GO DEDUMNASS…
Good point, Dwayne.
If Leon County skrewels are funded by the feds, the property tax assessments we get for schools needs to be REMOVED. Someone needs to file a lawsuit against the local taxing authority for malfeasance. That is clear misappropriation.
And of course, LET’S GO BRANDON! ???(?_?)???
What you are witnessing here is the outcome of the federalization of education. For decades states have become nothing more than federal welfare queens constantly going to the feeding trough of federal grant dollars. Because of a failure to abolish the U.S.S.A.’s Dept. of Education they can threaten states and local schools with loss of money. The socialists and communists that run the USSA know full well how to manipulate this and threaten states, plus they are more than willing to use their apparatchik powers. Unless Florida bans any and all federal grant monies, and yes, including Medicaid, they will be forever lap dogs of the USSA and all its evil tyranny. Another possible solution is to fully criminalize any and all masking of children as child abuse during the upcoming special session. Hold these actual child abusers to account. Criminalize their behavior and start the arrests. I would also like to see parents arrested for masking their children. Treat these Branch Covidians for what and who they are, filthy Godless, Satanic, child abusing cultists.
Lets Go Brandon!
This affects private schools as well. You have wealthy parents on the boards who make very high dollar donations, which they think, should give them more influence. Sadly, it does.
If you still have your kids in public school, it’s really your own fault at this point
Why is Federal grant money going directly to local school districts? Shouldn’t Federal funds go to the State DOE and then be distributed to the school districts? If the local districts are paid with Federal monies then they can afford the luxury of defiance to State authority. Couldn’t they then be considered Federally funded schools and thus should derive their budget from Federal tax dollars? Why then should they levy local taxes? Cut them off if they follow marching orders from the Federal Government.
It now seems the STATE should require ALL FEDERAL MONEY TO ANY PROGRAM be sent for distribution to THE STATE ( and make it plain that ‘ programs ‘ do not include SS, SSD, SSI or medicare / medicaid individual reimbursement of benefits that have been paid for out of the taxpayer’s individual wages EARNED ) but does include EVERY LAST CENT OF ANY TYPE OF PAYMENT GOING TO THE NON RESIDENTS THAT ARE NOT VERIFIED CITIZEN STATUS OF THE STATE REPUBLIC OR ANOTHER OTHER US STATE REPUBLIC… The FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE UNITED NATIONS SHOULD NOT BE PROVIDING ANY SUPPORT OF ANY KIND TO THE ILLEGAL INVADERS SHOVED INTO OUR STATE REPUBLICS BY THE JOINT UNCONSTITUTIONAL UNION OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE GLOBALIST UNITED NATIONS NOW PROVIDING FINANCIAL AND LOGISTICS SUPPORT TO THE INVASION FORCES CROSSING OUR BORDERS.
Note to statewide Public Indoctrination System Stool Boards:
As the SCIENCE has proven, neither face diapers nor two shots of sugar water and fertilizer runoff prevents ANYONE from contracting or spreading the China Bio-Weapon Flu.
… typical Dementia Joe Biden and DemoKKKrat Party tyranny is all…
… so… Let’s Go Brandon !
Wake up sleepy Joe and Barak Hussain. The best Governor in the USA has already plans in place to stop your late in the game JV TEAM lame @$$ response to what Florida is doing to protect our precious children from your idiot plans and schemes.
If I remember correctly, President George H. Bush wanted to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education. He should have done it; we don’t need the federal government involved with education. The agency, at best, is a government boondoggle.
The State needs to assert its rights against this bullying Biden regime.
LET’S GO BRANDON!!!