Bradenton Herald | By Ana Ceballos, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau | October 28, 2021
A day after the Florida Department of Education withheld funds from two school districts amid an ongoing mask mandate fight, the Biden administration on Thursday filed a complaint asking an administrative judge to block the action.
The U.S Department of Education filed the complaint with the agency’s Office of Administrative Law Judges three days after warning Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran that there would be repercussions if the state moved forward with financial sanctions against two districts that have imposed strict mask mandates.
Specifically, federal officials said it would be unlawful for the state to withhold funds in an amount equal to federal grant awards that two districts, Broward and Alachua, received to offset financial penalties the state had already imposed in August.
Despite the warning, the Florida Department of Education on Wednesday began withholding state funds in an amount equal to the federal grant awards Broward and Alachua had received from the Biden administration.
“We believe Florida’s actions have violated federal law by reducing state funds on the receipt of federal funds,” a spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Education said in a statement, which noted, the action came after federal officials made “repeated requests to work together and protect students, educators and school communities.”