State to withhold salaries of Alachua, Broward school board members over mask mandates

The Florida Department of Education is withholding the monthly salaries for school board members in Alachua and Broward County, according to an announcement from Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran.

Corcoran says the move is retaliation for districts that implemented mask mandates in schools, which "violates parental rights by not allowing a parent or legal guardian to opt-out their child, as required by Florida Department of Health Emergency Rule 64DER21-12."

The announcement said the withholding of funds would continue monthly until the school boards comply with the emergency rule.

PREVIOUS: 4 of Florida's 5 largest school districts mandate masks, defying DeSantis' executive order

Earlier this month, the State Board of Education warned Alachua and Broward County school districts that salaries of top school officials would be withheld if they did not carve out exemptions for parents in their mask mandates. 

PREVIOUS: Ease your mask mandates or pay up, Fla. Board of Education warns districts

The state says the counties are prohibited from offsetting the withholding of funds by reducing expenditures in any other areas. 

The announcement says "the Commissioner of Education and State Board of Education retain the right and duty to impose additional sanctions and take additional enforcement action to bring each school district into compliance with state law and rule."

MORE: Governor’s school mask-mandate ban illegal and unsupported, judge rules

Meanwhile, a Leon County judge ruled the governor's ban on mask mandates was not legal. Judge John Cooper granted an injunction against the state Board of Education because of its enforcement of the executive order. 

The case is expected to be appealed. 

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running for governor against DeSantis, has called the executive order "indefensible and illegal."