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Broward Schools pushes back over mask mandate as state withholds over $500 million in funding

The Florida school mask battle was back in a Tallahassee courtroom on Friday.
The Florida school mask battle was back in a Tallahassee courtroom on Friday.

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – The Florida school mask battle was back in a Tallahassee courtroom on Friday.

An appeals judge ruled that Gov. Ron DeSantis can continue to enforce his mask mandate ban, for now.

Leaders with Broward County Schools are at their wits end, saying they are doing their best to keep students and staff safe and healthy, but that the state isn’t helping.

“In Broward County, we see people dying, we’re attending funerals, we see kids and staff being impacted with COVID,” said Broward School Board Chair Dr. Rosalind Osgood. “I personally don’t understand why it’s such a challenge when it’s so obvious of the needs that we have.”

On Friday, the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee announced DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education can continue punishing school districts for mask mandates, at least until the appeals court comes to a final decision as the case continues to move forward.

DeSantis posted a tweet on Friday saying he’s not surprised by the ruling and that he is fighting for the rights of parents.

Broward Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said there is no plan on lifting their mask mandate.

“Our local school board is acting under the Florida constitution, within their rights, within what they are charged to be doing for their local community,” Cartwright said.

At the same time, the school district is calling for the state to release federal funding for school districts across Florida that they say the state refuses to deliver, including hundreds of millions of dollars meant for Broward County.

“We don’t have a process to ask for these funds,” Cartwright said. “We’re talking about well over half a billion dollars.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into how mask policies are being handled in Florida.

The Florida Department of Education responded to the investigation by releasing the following statement:

“This letter, and accompanying press release, is pure political grandstanding from the Broward County School District and Superintendent who have already repeatedly shown that they only care about scoring political points and being noticed by their party leaders in D.C.”

About the Authors:

Parker Branton joined Local 10 News in January 2019 as a reporter. He was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, but now loves living on the sunny beaches of South Florida.

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.