Congressional candidate sues Gov. Ron DeSantis to stop mask-mandate ban in schools

Elvin Dowling calls governor's executive order unconstitutional
Gov. Ron DeSantis faces lawsuit over executive order banning mask mandates in schools
Posted at 10:30 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-07 00:02:39-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A congressional candidate from South Florida is suing Gov. Ron DeSantis for seeking to ban mask mandates in schools.

Elvin Dowling is the plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Friday in Broward County court.

The lawsuit, which lists DeSantis and the state of Florida as the defendants, was filed by Boca Raton attorney Barry Silver on Dowling's behalf.

It comes one week after DeSantis signed an executive order that gives parents the right to choose whether their children should be masked and threatens to withhold funding from school districts that don't comply.

The lawsuit seeks an emergency injunction to protect the community from DeSantis' "arbitrary and unconstitutional actions and omissions during a raging pandemic in Florida."

Dowling, who is seeking the congressional seat previously held by the late Alcee Hastings, is the father of three school-aged children.

"As a concerned parent for not just my three kids but for all of Florida's public school children, I am alarmed by the increasing rates of COVID-19 infections in our state, while our feckless governor twiddles his fingers, runs his mouth and thumbs his nose at science," Dowling said in a statement Friday. "Requiring masks at school will protect our children. Currying favor with narrow political interests will not."

Florida's State Board of Education and the Florida Department of Health released emergency rules for the return to school Friday. Under the new rules, school districts may adopt mask requirements, but parents or legal guardians of students must be given the opportunity to opt-out. Parents may also be able to receive private school vouchers if they feel their children are being harassed by a district's COVID-19 safety policies, including requirements to wear masks.

An email sent to the governor's office seeking comment was not returned.