Florida Politics | By Jason Delgado | August 17, 2021
The Board of Education will consider funding cuts against two school districts who implemented mask mandates.
Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried vowed to “speak out” Tuesday after her request to testify at a State Board of Education meeting went unacknowledged by Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.
In the request sent Monday, Fried voiced opposition to plans by Gov. Ron DeSantis to impose financial consequences against school districts who implement mask mandates on school grounds.
At the Tuesday emergency meeting, the State Board of Education will consider funding cuts against two school districts — Alachua and Broward — Corcoran deemed “non-compliant.”
The school districts require students and teachers to wear masks in school and only allow opt-outs in certain instances.
“There can be no room for error or leniency when it comes to complying with your agency’s and our state’s constitutional requirements and the health and educational needs of children,” Fried wrote in the letter.
Fried, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, asserted that masks are the most effective COVID-19 mitigation tool for children, who are ineligible for vaccination.
Without masks, she contended, Florida cannot uphold its constitutional obligation to “protect the lives” of students and staff.
“Well over one thousand students across the state are currently quarantined due to COVID-19 outbreaks in and around Florida schools,” Fried wrote in the letter. “Florida leads the nation in child hospitalizations due to COVID-19, with pediatric ICU capacity close to zero at the present time.”
Notably, the Republican Governor’s plans to impose sanctions have drawn the ire of the White House.
In early August, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged the White House is indeed searching for legal avenues to intervene.
DeSantis, meanwhile, vowed to “fight back.”
“It’s about parental choice, not government mandate,” DeSantis told reporters in August.
Fried will host a COVID-19 press conference at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday with educational professionals and the parents and grandparents of students at the Florida Capitol.