Florida’s fight over fines for school mask rules continues

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Opponents, left, and supporters of a mask mandate, right, square off outside the Pinellas County school district headquarters before the school board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Largo.
Opponents, left, and supporters of a mask mandate, right, square off outside the Pinellas County school district headquarters before the school board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021, in Largo. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Oct. 14, 2021

Coronavirus cases continue to decrease in schools across Florida. That improvement has led many district officials to scale back their mask requirements — including some of those that faced financial penalties for not following state mandates for parental opt-out provisions. Still, some are holding firm, and the power struggle over the issue goes on. Read on for the latest on this story and more Florida education news.

The deadline passed for Florida school districts to change their strict mask mandates or face sanctions. The Brevard County School Board received a letter Tuesday saying its district will have funding withheld equal to the amount of board member salaries, unless the board changes its policy within 48 hours, Florida Today reports. The board so far has declined to change its policy. • The Orange County School Board got a similar letter, WJXT reports. • A Miami-Dade County board member said he did not anticipate a change in district policy despite the looming fine, WPLG reports. • Leon County school district officials are waiting to see if their rule change will lead the state to cancel their sanctions, WTXL reports.

The federal government has offered to cover any withheld money. The Florida Department of Education sent a letter to U.S. DOE telling it to cease and desist its grant program, Florida Politics reports.

Some lawmakers want to short circuit the issue. They’ve filed legislation that would prohibit school districts from imposing mask mandates, the News Service of Florida reports.

Hot topics

School choice: The application season for 2022-23 is fast approaching. Tampa Bay area school districts have begun releasing parent information to help them prepare.

Homework: The Hillsborough County school district is investigating a middle school homework assignment that asked students to consider scenarios involving slavery. A parent complained that the work was inappropriate, and district officials found it was not part of the approved curriculum, Bay News 9 reports.

Guns on campus: Leon County schools have seen a surge in students with weapons. It’s got law enforcement officials concerned, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Hiring shortages: The Citrus County school district finally got all its bus routes covered with drivers. Now it’s working to fill vacancies in other positions, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Other school news

Osceola County is trying to create a new logo. A School Board member proposed a student contest for the effort, suggesting the students could do a better job of representing the county’s heritage, WFTV reports.

School boards across Florida are redrawing member districts. In Volusia County, the board is reviewing nearly a dozen options with the County Commission, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

A Martin County high school teacher was removed from his classroom as a racy photo of him in bondage circulated around the school. It’s not clear whether he shared the photo with students, WPEC reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The House Children, Families and Seniors subcommittee meets at 11 a.m. to hear presentations on at-risk boys and fatherhood. • The House Higher Education Appropriations subcommittee meets at 11 a.m. to receive a report on the fiscal impact of new workforce development programs.

From the police blotter ... A Flagler County middle school student faces felony charges after being arrested on accusations of threatening to shoot a teacher and a classmate, Flagler Live reports.

From the court docket ... A former Leon County School Board member is suing Gov. Ron DeSantis, who removed her from office, contending the governor violated her constitutional rights, WCJB reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... Can’t get enough cat videos? How about a cat-inspired parody of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody?

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