Florida Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled in favor of a group of parents who sued DeSantis over his executive order that banned school mask mandates.
On August 27, 2021, Cooper ruled that the Florida Department of Education could not enforce Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) July 30 order authorizing Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran to withhold funding from school districts that require masks because doing so would violate a separation of powers statute. In his order, DeSantis directed the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Education to ensure that school COVID-19 restrictions are consistent with H.B 241, a law DeSantis signed on June 29 prohibiting state and government institutions from interfering with parents’ authority to make educational or healthcare decisions for their children.
A group of parents sued DeSantis on August 6, alleging the order interferes with school districts’ authority to protect students.
In his ruling, Cooper said H.B. 241 does not prohibit schools from enforcing mask mandates because the law also allows for narrow restrictions to protect public health.
In response, DeSantis’ communications director said, “[w]e will continue to defend the law and parent’s rights in Florida, and will immediately appeal the ruling to the First District Court of Appeals, where we are confident we will prevail on the merits of the case.”