Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has proven once again that elections have consequences. His office announced on Monday that the Florida Board of Education has the power to withhold the salaries of superintendents and board members who enforce a mask mandate at schools within their purview, reported CBS Miami.
DeSantis notoriously signed an executive order prohibiting mask mandates, although masking is one of the major methods to slow or stop the spread of the potentially fatal COVID-19 virus.
In direct contradiction to the United States Secretary of Education, DeSantis asserted that parents had the right to decide if their child should wear a mask and that schools did not have the right to mandate either way.
“As a parent, I would like that choice, and a lot of these kids have recovered from COVID-19, and there’s no scientific justification to put these kids to put it on in the first place, to begin with,” DeSantis said.
However, the new delta variant of the virus has been shown to cause more severe illness in children. This poses a problem as classes resume, and Florida has overtaken Louisiana as the worst COVID hotspot.
The official statement from DeSantis’ office reads in part:
“With respect to enforcing any financial consequences for non-compliance of state law regarding these rules and ultimately the rights of parents to make decisions about their children’s education and health care decisions, it would be the goal of the State Board of Education to narrowly tailor any financial consequences to the offense committed. For example, the State Board of Education could move to withhold the salary of the district superintendent or school board members, as a narrowly tailored means to address the decision-makers who led to the violation of the law.”
In response, Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho issued his own statement that he intends to listen to public health and medical experts and will not allow the threat of his pay to be a determining factor in his decision. He also thanked DeSantis for not penalizing the students.
Certain Florida school districts are working on options for students whose parents don’t feel safe with in-person instruction.
On the upside, Florida courts and voters are the only parties that can overturn the governor’s vote.