STATEWIDE — Florida’s Education Commissioner is threatening to withhold funding from three Florida school districts — including Orange County Public Schools — for enacting mask mandates for students without allowing parents to opt their children out. 

What You Need To Know

In a letter (see below), Commissioner Richard Corcoran is asking OCPS leaders to respond to an investigation by the commission by 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Commission already announced on Monday it is withholding funding from school districts in Alachua County and Broward County equal to the monthly salaries of school board members because the state education commissioner says those school districts are violating Florida’s Parents’ Bill of Rights by making mask mandates for students mandatory. 

State education officials are taking the action despite a judge’s decision last week that ruled Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mandatory school board mask mandates was illegal.

On Tuesday night, school board members in Volusia County changed their mask mandate for students to make it mandatory. 

There, masks will be required in schools beginning Tuesday, Sept. 7, but there is a grace period until Sept. 13 for parents to get a doctor’s note if they want their child to opt out. 

The policy will be in effect until Oct. 15, when the school board will re-evaluate based on current coronavirus case numbers in the community.

“I think they broke the law,” said Anna Hannon, a parent of an 11th grader in Volusia County Schools. “We have the Parent’s Bill of Rights — it was voted in by the legislature — it’s a law now.  They clearly went against it.  I’m very disappointed in them.”