Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday appealed a judge’s ruling that states he surpassed his authority when he issued an executive order banning school boards from imposing mask mandates.
Attorneys for the Republican governor took the case to the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, seeking to reverse Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper’s ruling last week.
Cooper on Friday ruled that the state could not sanction local school boards that require masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, namely the Delta variant, on school property. His decision essentially gave the state’s 67 school boards the authority to impose mask mandates for students without parental consent. Cooper’s ruling was automatically stayed by the appeal.
At a press briefing earlier this week, DeSantis said that he is confident that Florida will win on appeal by linking the mask requirement order to the “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” saying that the law reserves for parents the authority to oversee their children’s education and health.
Cooper however previously addressed the law, saying in his decision that it does not ban mask mandates and does not “authorize the governor to forbid schools from adopting a blanket mask policy.”
Separately, on Monday, Florida’s Department of Health announced that it is withholding funds from two school districts in Broward and Alachua counties that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis’s July 30 order banning mask mandates.
The education department said that the funds would be withheld until the school districts comply with state law and rule.
Florida is one of several states where Republican governors have sought to prevent local governments and school districts from mandating masks.
These governors have said that such rules infringe on personal liberty. Proponents of mask mandates have said the rules are necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 across the country.
On Aug. 30, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it is probing five GOP-led states that have prohibited mask mandates in schools, including Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah, saying such policies could be discriminatory against students with disabilities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.