Biden admin seeks to block Florida's penalties on school mask mandates
The U.S. Department of Education filed a complaint Thursday urging an administrative judge to block Florida from withholding federal funds from two school districts for implementing mask mandates.
Driving the news: "The Florida Department of Education has unlawfully — and explicitly — reduced the amount of state aid provided to Florida school districts based on their receipt of federal funds," according to the complaint.
- The complaint alleges that the state slashed funding to districts "as part of a broader effort to deter those districts from implementing practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
- The U.S. Department of Education filed the complaint with the agency's Office of Administrative Law Judges and seeks a cease and desist order against the state of Florida.
The big picture: School officials in Alachua and Broward counties alleged that Florida reduced funding because they received federal grants to counteract state penalties for issuing mask mandates, AP reports.
- Thursday's filing is the latest clash between DeSantis and the Biden administration over mask mandates in the state.
- DeSantis' administration also recently passed measures to cut the salaries of school board members in districts that implement a mask mandate, per AP.
- DeSantis also announced Thursday that the state filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors.
What they're saying: The complaint "comes after we made repeated requests to work together and protect students, educators, and school communities," a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education said in a statement.
- "We believe Florida’s actions have violated federal law by reducing state funds based on the receipt by districts of federal funds."
The other side: "The U.S. DOE is acting unlawfully and they have yet to respond to the substance of our prior response," Jared Ochs, a spokesperson for Florida's Department of Education, said in a statement.
- "We will continue forward fighting for Florida students’ access to a free and public education."
- DeSantis' office shares the Florida Department of Education's position, per a spokesperson.
Go deeper: DeSantis sues Biden administration over contractor vaccine mandate