Education Commissioner defends mask policy

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, in an exclusive interview, argued the districts must be held accountable.
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 4:45 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - The list of counties bucking the state and governor over mask mandates is growing.

It comes as two, Alaucha and Broward, will see funding withheld and the other eight can expect to be told they are violating the law soon.

10 counties are now bucking the state on parental opt-outs from mask mandates, including two more since Tuesday.

Alaucha and Broward, the first two to be told they were not following the law, responded by telling the state, “We have the right.”

“We’re not joking,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran.

Corcoran, in an exclusive interview, argued the districts must be held accountable.

“What is right for the children. What is right is to empower those parents. There is no greater form of local government. No greater form of empowerment. No wiser decision can be made for those children than by the parents,” said Corcoran.

Despite recent polling that shows the public overwhelmingly opposes penalties for school districts requiring masks, the state isn’t backing down.

“You have to follow the rule of law. You have to do what is right. And if you’re are not going to do what’s right, we will withhold your salaries,” said Corcoran.

The state said it will send letters to the remaining counties bucking the state on mask mandates by the end of the week or early next week.

And while Florida cases continue to rise, the Education Commissioner expects the spike to be temporary.

“We’ll get to the middle of September, everyone will calm down because our cases are declining just like they did last year,” said Corcoran.

New polling out Wednesday found 51% of the public now oppose the governor’s handling of the pandemic, but Corcoran said the poll won’t change the state’s direction.

“Dr. Makary, Dr. Meissner, Tuffs, John Hopkins: Masks are ineffective,” said Corcoran.

While a suit has yet to be filed by the school districts, it is sure to end up in court.

If it does, it will take weeks or even months to be settled.

Suwannee County in North Florida voted Tuesday to ask the Attorney General for an official opinion on whether the state has the power to impose mandates on local districts.

When issued, the opinion carries the weight of law until a court decides otherwise.

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