Florida’s Department of Education initiated an investigation into The School District of Lee County Friday over its recently implemented mask mandate, which the state claims violates a parent’s right to opt out. According to a letter WINK News obtained from a school district source, DOE threatens to withhold money from the district if it doesn’t act.
The letter, sent from state education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, is addressed to both Interim Superintendent Ken Savage and School Board Chair Debbie Jordan.
In his letter, Corcoran asserts the inability for parents to opt out of the mask mandate — unless schools within the The School District of Lee County are provided with a doctor’s note — is non-compliant with a Florida Surgeon General emergency rule adopted by Florida Department of Health Aug. 6.
“Parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education and care of their minor children,” Corcoran wrote in the letter.
The commissioner said he has initiated an immediate investigation of non-compliance with the ruling by the Florida Surgeon General and has required a written response be provided 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8. to show the District is adhering to the ruling adopted by the health department.
If the District does not follow the commissioner’s request, he wrote the education department will be directed to cut off money to the District in an amount equal to the combined salaries of the Lee County School Board.
There is no further information beyond the letter sent by the commissioner at this time.
The school board passed the mask mandate for Lee County schools after a judge ruled Gov. Ron DeSantis overstepped his abilities by ordering school boards not to impose mask mandates on students to curb the spread of COVID-19. The governor has since appealed this ruling.