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U.S. Department of Education opens civil rights investigation into Florida's mask mandate ban in schools

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Posted at 8:26 AM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-13 08:26:29-04

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened a civil rights investigation into Florida's mask mandate ban in schools.

The Office for Civil Rights said it opened the investigation dealing with Florida's Department of Education's mask rules as it pertains to students with disabilities.

"(OCR) is opening a directed investigation into whether the Florida Department of Education may be preventing school districts in the state from considering or meeting the needs of students with disabilities as a result of Florida’s policy that requires public schools and school districts to allow parents or legal guardians to opt their child out of mask mandates designed to reduce the risk to students and others of contracting COVID-19 in school," the investigation letter states.

Similar investigations have been opened in five other states.

"(OCR)...is concerned that Florida’s policy requiring public schools and school districts to allow parents to opt their children out of mask mandates may be preventing schools in Florida from meeting their legal obligations not to discriminate based on disability and from providing an equal educational opportunity to students with disabilities who are at heightened risk of severe illness from COVID-19," the investigation letter states.

RELATED: Florida mask mandate ban reinstated until appellate court decides case

On Friday, an appeals court judge reinstated Governor Ron DeSantis' mask mandate ban while the case continues to move through the courts. The court did this by reimposing a stay on Judge John C. Cooper's order that halted the mandate ban.

The appellate court victory allows the state to continue punishing school districts that mandate them, at least until the appeals judge rules on the mandates' legality.