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The Leon County School District Is The Latest To Take The Fight Over Masking To Court

a young girl and boy walk outside of a school on the sidewalk, wearing masks
Patricia Moynihan
Two elementary students walk home after a day at school in Tallahassee. Masks are required unless a medical opt-out form is provided.

Leon County’s School Board and Superintendent are the latest to take a fight with the state over student masking to court. The district has filed a challenge to a Department of Health rule that says districts have to allow parents to opt out. Leon's challenge is the latest in a ballooning number of lawsuits against the state’s effort to block schools from mandating that students wear face coverings.

The Leon County School District recently hired a lawyer to help defend it against potential punishment from the state over its mask mandate. Leon will only allow students in grades PreK through 8 to opt out of face coverings if they have a medical excuse. High schoolers can use a parental opt-out. The district is one of more than a dozen with similar medical-only opt-outs. These defiant districts have been under increasing threats from the state to hold back funding if they don’t drop their policies.

Leon is arguing that the department of health exceeded its authority when it wrote an emergency rule that says parents have the ability to opt their kids out of mask-wearing, and that the emergency rule was improperly enacted. In a previous response to state education commissioner Richard Corcoran, Leon’s superintendent Rocky Hanna noted there was nothing in that rule explicitly forbidding districts from requiring parents to have a medical excuse to opt their kids out of wearing face coverings.

Leon’s challenge to the state’s masking policy is the latest in an increasing number of challenges to Governor Ron DeSantis’ effort to ban mandatory mask policies. There are now at least six lawsuits spread over federal, administrative, and appellate courts.

Broward, Orange, Alachua, Miami-Dade, and now Leon all have cases pending before the administrative court.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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