DeSantis adds teeth to ban on mask mandates in schools, threatens to withdraw salaries

COVID-related mask mandates in Florida have drawn fierce opposition

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' office made it clear that the state Board of Education would use financial penalties to enforce the state's ban on mask mandates in schools. 

The governor's office warned that superintendents and school board members who required children to wear face masks in school would face fines or see their salaries withheld.

"With respect to enforcing any financial consequences for noncompliance 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," the governor's office said in a statement to CBS Miami on Monday. 

"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," DeSantis' office added. "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."

Last month, DeSantis signed an executive order that effectively bans school systems from imposing mask mandates in response to rising COVID-19 cases amid the spread of the delta variant. 


Some Republicans have disagreed with DeSantis' ban.

"I do disagree with Governor DeSantis. The local officials should have control here," Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., told CNN about the ban. "I'm a conservative. I think you govern best when you govern closest to the people being governed. And if a local community is having their ICU is full and the people at the local schools see that they've got to make sure they stay open because otherwise children miss out for another year of school and they put in policy, then the local officials should be listened to. That is a conservative principle."