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Gov. DeSantis threatens to withhold salaries at schools that require masks for employees, students

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said that he might withhold salaries of superintendents and school board members who attempt to circumvent his statewide ban on face coverings.

What are the details?

In a Monday statement to WFOR-TV, a spokesperson for DeSantis' office said, "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 statement added that the governor prioritizes "protecting parents' rights" and "ensuring that every student has access to high-quality education that meets their unique needs."

"For example," the statement continued, "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."

DeSantis previously threatened to cut off funding for schools that mandate masks for students for the 2021-2022 school year.

Christina Pushaw, DeSantis' spokesperson, told Slate, "Education funding is for the students. 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."

What else?

Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade's school superintendent, issued a statement of his own in response to DeSantis' remarks.

"We have established a process that requires consultation with experts in areas of public health and medicine," Carvalho said in a statement. "We will follow this process, which has served us well, and then make a final decision. 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. I want to thank the Governor for recognizing that students should not be penalized."

Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna also told school officials, "You can't put a price tag on someone's life, including my salary."

"If something happened and things went sideways for us this week and next week as we started school, and heaven forbid we lost a child to this virus, I can't just simply blame the governor of the state. I can't," Hanna added.

Alachua County Superintendent Carlee Simon said that parents "won't be able to opt out of a mask mandate unless they have a medical reason," Slate reported.

"I know it appears I'm being combative and I don't want to be combative, but this is the responsibility I have in this position," Simon said, adding that she'd be interested in learning the legalities of how she could possibly lose a portion of her salary for mandating masks in schools.

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