Broward schools could lose another $420,000 in state funding over COVID rules

But school board keeping protocols in place until positivity rates drop

Florida's education commissioner wants to withhold the amount Broward County Public Schools was reimbursed by the Biden Administration as the mask mandate battle continues.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida’s education chief is threatening to withhold nearly half a million dollars in additional funding from Broward County Public Schools as the district continues to enforce mask and quarantine policies that go against the state’s orders.

In a letter dated Monday, Commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote the State Board of Education should be “withholding state funds in an amount equal to 1/12 of all school board members’ salaries, as well as withholding state funds in an amount equal to any federal grant funds awarded to” Broward’s school district.

That’s in reference to the $420,000 Broward schools got from the Biden administration to recoup the financial penalties levied by the state in the mask fight.

Corcoran suggests those sanctions because Broward refuses to adhere to the governor’s ban of mask mandates and last month’s rule from the state that says parents should get to decide if their child should quarantine after coming in direct contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. (Read the full memo at the bottom of this page.)

However, the Broward school board voted 8-1 Tuesday to keep in place its mask mandate and quarantine protocols until vaccination rates reach 66% (which they say they already reached) and COVID positivity rates sit at or below 3% for 10 days.

Outside of that school board meeting, parents protested saying masks should be optional in Broward schools.

“There is no conclusive evidence that masks help slow the spread of COVID, especially among children,” parent Adam Herman said. “Some studies say yes. Some studies say no.”

Interim Superintendent Vickie Cartwright says decisions on face masks and quarantines should be made at the local level, not by the state.

“Does it add to anxiety for our students, our families and staff? Yes, it does,” she said.

As of Tuesday, Broward says 2,190 students and 552 teachers have tested positive for COVID-19 since mid-August.

“I’m not willing to risk anybody’s life — student or staff,” said Rosalind Osgood, chair of the Broward school board. “I wouldn’t do it with my children, my grandchildren, or myself.”

Said board member Lori Alhadeff: “I’m very concerned of the long-term trauma that we are putting on our children by forcing them to wear a mask.”

Alyssa’s Alert

Also Tuesday, the majority of school board members came together to tout Alyssa’s Alert, a mobile app already working that allows teachers and staff to instantly report any problems, so law enforcement can quickly respond.

The system is named after Alyssa Alhadeff, who was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting in 2018.

Her mother, school board member Lori Alhadeff is the reason the system and law are now a reality.

“If the guy in the golf cart had Alyssa’s Alert and pushed the button, lives would have been saved,” she said.

At last week’s MSD Commission meeting, concerns were raised that not enough teachers and staff had downloaded the app.

About 5,000 users, or 16% percent of staff, had downloaded it.

For more on how Alyssa’s Alert works, click here.


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.