Leon County was one of five counties that filed a notice with the 4th District Court of Appeal after a judge said decisions to opt out of student mask requirements are at the “sole discretion” of parents or guardians.
Tallahassee Democrat | By Ana Goñi-Lessan | November 9, 2021
In an abrupt about-face, Leon County Schools is withdrawing from an appeal to a judge’s order last week that upheld a Florida Department of Health emergency rule, which banned all mask mandates.
“While we continue to believe in our right to make decisions that are overwhelmingly supported by our community we no longer believe it is prudent for us to peruse a short term legal remedy to determine where the line is drawn between state rights and the rights of our local school system,” said Superintendent Rocky Hanna in a statement.
“We will continue to look for other avenues to advocate for home rule and local control in the future.”
Leon County was one of five Florida counties that filed a notice with the 4th District Court of Appeal after Administrative Law Judge Brian Newman with the Division of Administrative Hearings said decisions to opt out of student mask requirements are at the “sole discretion” of parents or guardians.
In a tweet Tuesday morning, before the district sent out the statement, school board member Alva Striplin said she was against the appeal. Striplin, who maintains the district shouldn’t divert money from educational purposes to a lawsuit, previously made a motion to drop the lawsuit. But it wasn’t seconded by any of her School Board colleagues.
“This LCS Board member did NOT agree to join this appeal nor was I given the courtesy of voicing my opinion prior to furthering our exhausting battle with the Governor and Department of Education,” Striplin wrote on Facebook. “Enough! No more taxpayer dollars spent on endless appeals which will only result in further damage to our district, our schools and our students. It’s time we return to focusing our energy on education.”
Duval, Broward, Miami-Dade and Alachua counties are still a part of the appeal as of noon on Tuesday.
On Monday, Leon County was still ready to forge ahead with the appeals process. Hanna said they were exercising their right to appeal the DOAH judge’s ruling, just like the governor appealed Circuit Court Judge John C. Cooper’s decision to block the ban on mask mandates.