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Superintendents who disobey Gov. DeSantis' executive order risk salaries

The governor’s priorities are protecting parents’ rights, as stated in a letter from his office.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — School superintendents who violate Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order ensuring parents the freedom to choose if their child wears a mask in school risk their salary, the governor's office said Monday.

The financial consequence comes after many school districts across Florida have required students to wear masks in schools unless their parents make the decision for their child to opt-out of wearing a mask.

The letter from the governor's office states that it is ultimately the parents' decision to make.

"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 law.

Education funding is intended to benefit students first and foremost, not systems. The Governor’s priorities are protecting parents’ rights and ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education that meets their unique needs."

Gov. DeSantis signed the executive order July 30, stating “in Florida, there will be no lockdowns. There will be no school closures. There will be no restrictions and no mandates." 

However, school districts have encouraged masks be worn indoors as COVID-19 cases surge across the state.

In Hillsborough County, students are required to wear a mask indoors unless parents opt them out of the policy.

"While the outcome may be the same whether we make face coverings optional or required with an opt-out, we believe this decision continues to illustrate that Hillsborough County Public Schools takes public safety seriously. We want to ensure we are doing all we can to help community-wide efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19," a statement Saturday from Superintendent Addison Davis read in part.