TALLAHASSEE, Fla .– Don’t do it or else. It was the opinion On Monday, the US Department of Education told the state not to cut federal grants to districts violating the Florida mask warrant ban.
Several schools still do not offer the required parental waivers and plan to use SAFE project funds to offset penalties imposed by the state.
Ian Rosenblum, Assistant Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs, sent the warning letter to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.
In it, Rosenblum said reducing SAFE dollars would violate the Primary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
“A state shall not take into account payments under this law (…) in determining (…) the amount of state aid, with respect to free public education of children . “
Of @ EducationFLDirector of Communications: “Yes, we have received another harassing and legally void letter from the US DOE, and again, we will continue, legally, as we have been doing all this time. “
– Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) 25 October 2021
If the state moves forward, Rosenblum said, federal officials are ready to “take coercive action to end these unacceptable state actions.”
“We hope you reconsider your threats of action against these districts in response to the Project SAFE awards, so that they can continue to take action to help ensure safe and healthy environments for their students, families and educators.” , said Rosenblum.
The letter follows a recent decision by the State Board of Education to strip districts receiving federal backfill. Broward and Alachua counties were the first to be approved for thousands of dollars each.
In a declarationFLDOE communications director Jared Ochs said the department received the letter but would not stop planning to withdraw dollars.
“Yes, we received another harassing and legally hollow letter from the US DOE,” Ochs said. “And again, we will continue to move forward, legally, as we have been doing all this time.”
The state threat was enough to prevent districts like Alachua from raising funds. Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon recently told us that she would wait and see how things go before going ahead with the grant.
“We will use it in case we need it,” said Simon. “At this point, we’ll just wait and see. We’re watching our dollars and making sure we’re spending them appropriately.”
The letter from the US Department of Education is likely to provide some comfort to rebel districts like Alachua, as the federal government again shows continued support. But, other complications are in preparation.
At the governor’s request, lawmakers are expected to return in November for a special session devoted to mask and vaccine requirements.
Specifically, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wanted “extra protections” to hold provocative school districts accountable and protect individual freedoms.
The DeSantis office said it expects more details on the special session later this week.