By Team

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The U.S. Department of Education is taking seriously the threat of withholding money from the Broward and Alachua counties’ school districts over their mask policies.

The Florida State Board of Education has ordered a reduction in state education aid to both school districts by the amount each receives as a federal Project SAFE grant award. Project SAFE is a federal grant program intended to help school districts improve student safety and well-being by advancing strategies to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in schools.

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In a letter to the state education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Ian Rosenblum, U.S. Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs, said that if it goes through with withholding the funds, they would be in violation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
of 1965.

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“A State shall not take into consideration payments under this Act … in determining … the amount of State aid, with respect to free public education of children,” he wrote.

Rosenblum wrote that if Florida goes forward with its planned reduction, “the Department is prepared to initiate enforcement action to stop these impermissible state actions.”

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He added that he hoped they would reconsider the “threatened actions against these districts in response to the Project SAFE awards, so that they may continue to take steps to help ensure safe and healthy environments for their students, families, and educators.” Team