Florida state officials are pushing back against a lawsuit filed by parents who are unhappy about the recent executive order on masking in schools.
Schools are opening their doors for the new school year, yet with COVID variants springing up, some are wondering how in-person school will even happen this year. One way some schools are hoping to stem the spread is with mask mandates, while others are leaving that particular decision up to parents. A handful of states have even made it illegal for schools to force mask mandates on students, citing concerns that masks may be causing more harm than good. One of those states is Florida, and not everyone is happy about it.
Since Governor Ron DeSantis announced that schools cannot mandate masks for students, a number of lawsuits have been filed. One lawsuit, in particular, is heading to the courts to determine whether it “has any grounds to even exist.” The suit was filed by a handful of Florida parents upset by DeSantis’s executive order that was passed last month. The order “prevents schools from requiring masks, essentially banning blanket face-covering mandates.” In the suit, parents argue the order is “unconstitutional and prevents schools from providing a safe and secure educational environment.” In addition to DeSantis, the suit also names the Florida Department of Education as a defendant.
Lawyers representing Florida pushed back against the allegations and claims state leaders “have made a calculated decision, taking several factors into consideration.” The attorneys stated:
“The Governor and Surgeon General carefully balanced the legitimate state interests of school safety, educational well-being, and parental rights…Despite their lack of standing, Plaintiffs ask this Court to override the complex balancing of several competing interests — as well as carefully reviewed determinations — that have already been thoroughly assessed by the two branches of government in which this authority exclusively lies.”
In addition to pushing back against the allegations, attorneys for the state filed a motion to dismiss the suit earlier this week. That motion argues “the lawsuit could prompt judicial interference which goes against Florida’s government make-up and separation of powers.” They also argue that the “judge should also dismiss the case because parents don’t have a strong enough argument and provide no real solution, alleging they did not go through the decision-making process Florida’s leaders have.” The motion further reads:
“Florida’s Governor and Legislature have determined that it is in the best interests of the State to empower Florida parents with the right to manage the healthcare of their children. This includes the freedom to choose whether they must be masked in public schools.”
On top of that, the motion argues the “lawsuit holds political interest,” and claims the plaintiffs “can’t prove an injury stemmed from the governor’s executive order and even if they could the court wouldn’t be able to prevent or fix it.” It states the real argument is “between school districts and DeSantis, not parents.” The attorneys noted that “with little to no proof the order is hurting anyone the case is moot.”
The next hearing to address the suit is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. During the hearing, a judge will determine whether or not the case will proceed.