Ed Dept Opening Civil Rights Inquiry Into Florida Governor’s Ban on Mask Mandates

Ed Dept Opening Civil Rights Inquiry Into Florida Governor's Ban on Mask Mandates Ed Dept Opening Civil Rights Inquiry Into Florida Governor's Ban on Mask Mandates (Getty)

Friday, 10 September 2021 09:42 PM

The Department of Education said it has opened a civil rights investigation into whether Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is violating the rights of disabled students with his executive order banning mask mandates.

On Friday, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a letter to state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. The document said th DOJ was ''opening a directed investigation'' into whether the statewide ban on mask requirements in schools ''may be preventing school districts in the state from considering or meeting the needs of students with disabilities.''

The letter, from Suzanne Goldberg, the Education Department’s acting assistant secretary for civil rights, went on to say, ''OCR’s investigation will focus on whether, in light of this policy, students with disabilities who are at heightened risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are prevented from safely returning to in-person education, in violation of Federal law."

Said Goldberg, the inquiry will consider if Florida is "preventing schools from making individualized assessments about mask use so that students with disabilities can attend school and participate in school activities in person," as is their right.

The DOJ action came on the same day that the First District Court of Appeals reinstated the governor's ban on school mask mandates. It had been blocked by a circuit judge.

DeSantis has maintained his ban exists because the decision on whether children mask up in classrooms belongs to their parents and guardians.