DeSantis secret weapon in mask battle with school districts: the purse strings

Rather than withhold school funding, enforcement policy would target paychecks of decision-makers defying mask-mandate ban.

Updated: August 11, 2021 - 10:14am

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Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is flexing his muscles in a feud with school districts that aren't following his executive order banning mask mandates.

DeSantis announced Monday the state's Board of Education has the power to withhold salaries from any superintendents or school board members who defy the state's ban by implementing a mask mandate for students.

The governor's office told CBS4 that the education board can "narrowly tailor any financial consequences" for those school leaders who neglect to follow the law.

"Ultimately — Education funding is for the students," Christina Pushaw, the governor's spokeswoman, tweeted. "The kids didn't make the decision to encroach upon parents' rights. So any financial penalties for breaking the rule would be targeted to those officials who made that decision."

This new consequence follows the uproar of school board members and district superintendents who want to follow CDC guidelines, which advise mask-wearing for all students two years old and up.

"At no point shall I allow my decision to be influenced by a threat to my paycheck; a small price to pay considering the gravity of this issue and the potential impact to the health and well-being of our students and dedicated employees," Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade Public Schools superintendent said, NPR reported.