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State Board of Education holds Emergency Meeting on mask mandates

California Schools Student Departures
FILE photo (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The Florida Board of Education may rule to allow parents the option of private school on the taxpayers’ dime to avoid a mask mandate.
The State Board of Education will hold an emergency meeting at 11 a.m., on Friday to consider emergency rules that would allow parents opposed to mask mandates the option of private schooling for their kids. The meeting is open to the public via conference call at 1-800-367-2403 with the confirmation code 8000177 and is scheduled to air on the Florida Channel.

The priority won’t be the CDC’s recommendation of mask-wearing even for the vaccinated to deal with the new Delta variant, but to protect “parents’ freedom to choose.”

“It is abundantly clear that the task set before you by Governor DeSantis is nothing more than an attempt to take advantage of our current public health crisis by siphoning even more money away from our public schools,” Florida Sen. Gary Farmer wrote in a letter Thursday to Florida’s Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran.

According to the emergency meeting notice, some of the State Board of Education members agreed that the disagreements over face mask mandates at schools presented “the potential for student learning loss and educational disruption with schools starting next week,” and “an immediate danger to the public health, safety, and welfare of students.”

Some of the members want to provide parents with a choice through the state’s Hope Scholarship program, which offers victims of bullying in public schools access to private education. Farmer, a Democrat from Lighthouse Point, argues that if the State Board of Education creates such a state program during the emergency meeting it would be “unconstitutional and illegal.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis believes the state law he signed banning mask mandates and leaving the decision up to parents will stand up in court against the latest challenges.

A new lawsuit claims the no-mask mandate law violates local control of schools under the state constitution. The White House has condemned states like Florida that have enacted laws banning mask rules in schools. DeSantis says he will fight anyone who challenges the rights of Florida parents.