Judge nixes challenge to ban on Florida school mask mandates

The state of Florida’s ban on coronavirus mask mandates in schools will stay in effect

Administrative Judge Brian A. Newman rejected the case from school officials in Miami-Dade, Leon, Duval, Orange, Broward, and Alachua counties, finding that the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis was within its authority to impose the rule.

The ruling comes as part of a quarrel between the districts and the state that has resulted in docked school board salaries, withholding of district funding and the ire of the U.S. Department of Education. DeSantis, a Republican, has been a leading voice in resistance to coronavirus mask and vaccine mandates, elevating his star in the GOP as he eyes a 2024 presidential run.

Last month, the state began deducting an amount equal to a month’s pay from school board members in counties that defied the mask mandate ban. It also slashed overall funding to Alachua and Broward counties to offset federal aid packages meant to blunt the state’s sanctions on mask requirements.

The school districts on Friday filed a notice to appeal Newman's ruling.