ORLANDO, Fla. — A federal judge declined to halt Gov. Ron DeSantis’ school mask mandate ban, telling parents of disabled children ruling in their favor would not be in the public interest.
Around a dozen parents sued school boards across Florida and state officials over the ban earlier this summer, saying their children were more at risk of dying due to COVID-19 and were unable to attend in-person classes unless students were masked. They said the lack of choice violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“These kids cannot sit in a classroom with other children who aren’t wearing masks, it’s an unacceptable risk to their health,” attorney and mother Judi Hayes, the lead plaintiff, told Eyewitness News last week.
The judge said Hayes and other parents hadn’t exhausted their other options.
“A case-by-case review of each Plaintiff’s concerns would likely yield more effective solutions for each individual child than would a blanket injunction of Executive Order 21-175,” Southern District Judge Michael Moore wrote.
Moore said a child’s right to an education does not extend to the right to learn in their preferred environment. Additionally, he said Florida parents have the ability to pursue a HOPE scholarship if they aren’t satisfied by their local public school.
The parents had argued HOPE scholarships weren’t adequate.
This is the second major win for DeSantis in two weeks. Last week, a state district court of appeals temporarily reinstated the mandate ban after a Tallahassee-area judge blocked it. That court is still weighing whether or not the ban abides by the state constitution.
Eyewitness News has reached out to Hayes for comment.
Read the full order below: