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Leon County Judge Orders Hearing In Florida School Mask Lawsuit

 Pro-mask supporter Kenny Minchu and anti-mask supporter Deidre Ruth argue outside while inside the Broward County School Board holds a hearing to determine if it will impose a mask mandate for the upcoming school year. The meeting was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Aug. 10, 2021.
WLRN
Mask mandate supporter Kenny Minchu and anti-mandate supporter Deidre Ruth argue outside while the Broward County School Board holds a hearing to determine if it will impose a mask mandate for the upcoming school year. The meeting was in Fort Lauderdale on Aug. 10, 2021.

After a largely procedural Zoom hearing Friday, a state judge scheduled a Thursday hearing unless he decides to dismiss the case beforehand.

A state judge in Leon County expects to make a relatively quick decision about mask mandates in schools.

During a largely procedural Zoom hearing Friday afternoon, Judge John Cooper laid out an expedited schedule for considering a legal challenge to an executive order and other new state rules that block school districts from requiring facial coverings.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration will have until Monday to submit a motion to dismiss the case.

The plaintiffs — parents from Hillsborough, Pinellas, Palm Beach and Alachua counties — have until Tuesday to respond.

Cooper said he will rule on the motion verbally during a Zoom hearing scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday.

If he doesn’t dismiss the case, he will begin to hear evidence in the case at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 23.

The parents claim that DeSantis' order violates a section of the Florida Constitution requiring a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system” of public schools.

DeSantis, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, the state Department of Education and state Board of Education are named as defendants.

A separate lawsuit challenging DeSantis' executive order has been filed in federal court in South Florida by parents of children with disabilities. The lawsuit contends the executive order discriminates against disabled students.

Information from News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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