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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis voiced opposition to legislation that would strip funds that implemented mask mandates and instead suggested that parents should have the right to sue over the harm that masking caused their children.
“Rather than take money that may penalize a teacher or student because of the actions of some union-controlled school board members, my view would be — let’s not do that,” DeSantis said in a Friday news conference, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “But what you could do is say, any parent whose kid was illegally forced masked this year in Florida, in any of those districts, they should have the right to sue if their kids have any negative effects of it.”
DeSantis added that students who have speech problems, emotional problems, or physical problems as a result of masking should be able to sue school districts that “flouted the law.”
“If the legislature goes down that route I think that would be very beneficial,” DeSantis said. “It would strike a good balance between penalizing the politicians who flouted the law but also not doing that in a way that’s ham handed and may deprive some innocent school kid of the ability to participate in a certain program.”
DeSantis was referring to a proposal in the Florida House’s 2022-23 budget proposal named “Putting Parents First” that could take $200 million from school districts that imposed strict mask mandates.
Florida State Rep. Randy Fine, who chairs the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, says that the money would be redistributed to districts that followed the state’s masking rules as a “reward.”
Fine has said that he agrees with DeSantis’ statement.
“He just proposed another way of doing it,” Fine said in an interview. “The method he is proposing could be far more than $200 million.”