Gov. Ron DeSantis reverses funding reward for school mask mandates

Ron DeSantis
Posted at 2:15 AM, Jun 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-06 09:18:40-04

A dozen Florida school districts — including those in Palm Beach and Indian River counties — won't miss out on funding after all.

The budget passed by the Florida Legislature earlier this year included a $200 million "School Recognition Fund" to reward 55 school districts that didn't enact universal face mask mandates for students last year.

12 districts that did mandate masks — including Palm Beach and Indian River counties — were not eligible for that money.

School districts in Martin, St. Lucie, and Okeechobee counties were eligible for the reward money.

However, in a June 2 letter to Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., Gov. Ron DeSantis instructed the Florida Department of Education to ignore the Legislature's decision and "reward eligible schools for their achievements, as districts' actions have no bearing on a school's eligibility."

The governor said compliance with the law by schools and not the districts is key in allocation of funds for the program. DeSantis added that districts have no lawful means to spend the funding.

The "School Recognition Fund" gives financial awards to schools that receive an "A" grade or improve more than one letter grade on state assessments.