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Leon School District Latest To Take Student Mask Fight To Court

 Two elementary students walk home after a day at school in Tallahassee. Masks are required unless a medical opt-out form is provided.
Leon is one of more than a dozen school districs with similar medical-only opt-outs. These districts have been under increasing threats from the state to hold back funding if they don’t drop the policies.

An administrative court has consolidated Leon's challenge and four similar cases by other districts and groups including the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 24.

Leon County’s school board and superintendent are the latest to take a fight with the state over student masking to court.

The district has filed a challenge to a Department of Health rule that says districts have to allow parents to opt out. Leon's challenge is the latest in a ballooning number of lawsuits against the state’s effort to block schools from mandating that students wear face coverings.

An administrative law judge on Friday consolidated the challenge and four similar cases filed by the Orange, Alachua, Miami-Dade and Broward school districts and groups including the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. A hearing is scheduled to begin Sept. 24.

The Leon County district recently hired a lawyer to help defend it against potential punishment from the state over its mask mandate. Leon will only allow students in grades pre-k through eighth to opt out of face coverings if they have a medical excuse. High schoolers can use a parental opt-out.

Leon is one of more than a dozen districs with similar medical-only opt-outs. These districts have been under increasing threats from the state to hold back funding if they don’t drop the policies.

Like the other cases, Leon is arguing that the Department of Health exceeded its authority when it wrote an emergency rule that says parents have the ability to opt their kids out of mask-wearing, and that the emergency rule was improperly enacted.

In a previous response to Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Leon schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna noted there was nothing in that rule explicitly forbidding districts from requiring parents to have a medical excuse to opt their kids out of wearing face coverings.

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


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