The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday that it has provided nearly $150,000 to the Alachua County School Board to cover a state penalty targeting board members’ salaries.
State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran announced Aug. 30 that the Florida Department of Education had started to withhold funds from the Alachua and Broward County school districts in amounts equal to the monthly salaries of school board members who voted for student mask requirements.
Four Alachua board members voted to require students to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, with exceptions only for students whose parents submit doctors’ notes. The state has withheld two months’ worth of pay for the four board members “so far,” according to a statement Thursday from the Alachua district.
The federal education department said the $147,719 provided to Alachua is the first grant under what it is calling Project SAFE, or Project to Support America’s Families and Educators. The grant is the latest development in a feud between the federal and state governments over mask policies in public schools.
“We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them. We stand with the dedicated educators in Alachua and across the country doing the right thing to protect their school communities, and with today’s first-ever award under Project SAFE, we are further enabling educators to continue that critical work,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a prepared statement.
The Florida education department’s imposition of financial penalties stems from a July 30 executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis that sought to prohibit school districts from requiring students to wear masks. DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw criticized the U.S. Department of Education’s move Thursday.
“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. Therefore, it’s ironic that the federal government is now using taxpayer funding for education to pay the salaries of elected school board members, who made the decision to violate the law because they don’t believe parents have a right to choose what’s best for their children,” Pushaw told The News Service of Florida.
DeSantis’ executive order on masks has spurred legal challenges. One lawsuit, filed by a group of parents, is awaiting a hearing at the 1st District Court of Appeal, after a Leon County circuit judge ruled that DeSantis overstepped his constitutional authority in the order.
While the federal government looks to pick up the tab for school districts getting dinged financially, the state Department of Health on Wednesday tightened a rule regarding masks in schools.
The Department of Health issued a revised rule that says opting out of mask requirements is “at the parent or legal guardian’s sole discretion.” That change is targeted at districts, such as Alachua, that have required doctors’ notes to opt out of mask mandates.
The Alachua school district plans to keep its student mask requirement in place regardless of the state’s updated rule.
“At this point, we are maintaining our current protocols,” district spokeswoman Jackie Johnson told the News Service on Thursday.
Alachua schools Superintendent Carlee Simon, meanwhile, thanked the federal government for the grant.
“I’m very grateful to Mr. Cardona, President Biden and the federal government for the funding. But I’m even more grateful for their continued support and encouragement of our efforts to protect students and staff and to keep our schools open for in-person learning,” Simon said.
–Ryan Dailey, News Service of Florida
Deborah Coffey says
It isn’t enough that DeSantis has us all paying for massive and extensive hospitalizations, as well as monoclonal antibody treatments for people that WON’T get vaccinated for free. Now we have to pay the salaries of educators he won’t pay because they’re trying not to let children get sick and die even though DeSantis is obviously so PRO-COVID and death that he has ordered school administrators to be “just like him.” Enough is enough. You all know what to do in 2022.
E, ROBOT says
We taxpayers pay for everything. NOTHING is free.
DeSantis and Fox news need to be held accountable , they are literally killing people , a second couple, both of friends of mine have been destroyed by both DeSantis and Fox news purposely spreading this deadly virus , Fox has been spewing anti vaxer lies , saying the vaccines are not safe , that they have tracking chips in them , that they will make you impotent , or change your DNA, making a mutant out of you , they said masks are a waste of time , that they will actually make you sick instead of protecting you , I have had to avoid talking politics with them because Trump and Fox news have them believing not just the Big Lie , but that Biden and Democrats are blowing the Virus out of proportion , that it is no worse than the flu , my friend Patrick would get annoyed at me wearing a mask , tell me to get that diaper off my face , Patrick was a very nice guy with a great sense of humor , he took care of his disabled wife doing the grocery shopping , cooking her meals , taking her to her Dr appts , taking care of everything at their house , he was generous , he`d just converted his yard tools to battery operated ones, knows I too am disabled and struggling to make ends meet thanks to Sea Ray Boats crippling me with spinal cord and foot injuries then tossing me out like yesterdays trash , Pat gave me his gas operated Echo weed whacker , hedge clippers…. because politics aside , we still managed to stay friends , that is not the case with a lot of people in this country families included , The Republican party has morphed into a terrorist organization dividing our country much like the Taliban do in the Middle East , DeSantis and Tucker Carlson might as well be mowing people down with automatic weapons they are killing people at the same rate or faster with their lies and purposely spreading this deadly virus , both couples were sickened at family gatherings , sick children that were infected but not displaying any symptoms passed it on to their grand parents , the children got sick at school DeSantis is making sure they do with his anti mask campaign, now there are two widows both in my small circle of friends here in PC who treated this virus like it was the flu ,I have another friend out in Idaho who just tested positive they too are Republicans who are unvaccinated because they listened to the lies Fox spreads , DeSantis and Fox news killed them , I wish our Democratic party had a back bone and arrested these terrorist for spreading this deadly virus , maybe they will be held accountable for their Terrorist Attack on our Capitol on Jan 6th , they kill more people each day in our country than the 9/11 terrorist did on that horrific day , and they are getting away with it That needs to stop!
Like good data about the flu it is unconfirmed who perpetuated “the big lie”.
Once upon a time there was a Chinese deli located in a cave near Wuhan, China. The cae was full of bats…
The Trump administration gave that Wuhan Lab a butt load of money in 2017 , Rudy let that cat out of the bag , I`d like to know why since Obama banned all grants to Chinese labs in 2014 , then a year later Trump fired the Pandemic Response Teams in China and 36 other countries ,these teams were built and added onto by the previous 4 administrations to prevent Bio Weapons/and Viruses from being released into the world , That Wuhan Lab is just one block from the open food market they said it originally originated from , but have since been looking at it coming directly from the Lab itself , the Lab captures monkeys from caves and develops viruses , China was bested by the Japanese during WWll which was a head scratcher looking at the enormous size of China compared to the small island of Japan , but the Japanese released not one but two deadly viruses in China first… waited for it to spread and do pretty much what this virus did to us and out allies only twice as bad …..then they attacked .pretty messed up , but then they sucker punched the US at Pearl Harbor , being so small they had to strike first and hope for the best , back to now , just as this virus was reaching the US Trump gave China 18 tons of our stock piled PPE then lied ….said he inherited empty shelves , then lied again to the American people saying it was a hoax after he`d already told Bob Woodward it was a very deadly virus , ten time worse than the flu and very contagious , that it was airborne , yet he not only told his base to not wear masks , he demanded they didn`t at his super spreader rallies , him and his Governors did and are doing their level best to spread this virus and now it`s their supporters that are getting sick and dying because Fox News , DeSantis , Abbott and every other Rethuglican Gov are making sure our schools are breeding and spreading grounds for this virus /bio weapon they unleashed onto the world, You Trump Supporters really need to turn off Fox Fantasy Views they are and have been lying to you for years only now the lies are proving to be deadly , I`m telling you all this to try and get thru to you ,you can Snopes everything I`ve said here , I`m trying to save your lives , show you just what the people you are putting your trust in actually did .and are doing , purposely killing the people you love.
Thank you, Brian, for your deeply personal story. If you save the life of only one person by convincing them to get vaccinated, you are part of the “change” that we so desperately need. Hopefully, “many” people plan to get vaccinated after reading your comment.
Mike Cocchiola says
Whatever the demons driving DieSantis’ war on health, he’ll try to spread his madness farther and farther.
Next on his target list… women’s bodies.
It’s a war on our health , the state if Florida is fighting to make us sick and destroy or schools and economy!