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Florida withholds funds from school districts over mask mandates

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By Jenny Goldsberry

Florida’s Department of Education announced Monday that it is refusing to fund two of its counties due to their mask mandates. Within the counties there are 10 schools currently with mask mandates. They also warned of more penalties to come.

“Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran announced that the Florida Department of Education has withheld the monthly school board member salaries in Alachua and Broward County, as directed by the State Board of Education,” the statement read. “Each district has implemented a mandatory face mask policy that violates parental rights by not allowing a parent or legal guardian to opt-out their child.”

Yet Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled last Friday that the department could not level sanctions against districts. Even though Governor Ron DeSantis put into law a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” in June, Cooper ruled that mask mandates don’t apply. Instead, he ruled the department “must allow a due process proceeding of some sort to allow for a showing of reasonableness” before implementing sanctions.

At the time, DeSantis’ spokesperson said the governor planned to appeal the ruling. Then, the Commissioner Corcoran went on with his announcement. Since then, he retweeted the Florida Speaker of the House Christ Sprowls. “I stand firmly on the side of parental rights because parents, not local governments or school  boards, are in the best position to make choices for their children,” Sprowls tweeted.

“The Commissioner of Education and State Board of Education retain the right and duty to impose additional sanctions and take additional enforcement action to bring each school district into compliance with state law and rule,” the statement finished.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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College to begin offering abortion pill on campus

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Barnard College, a partner campus of Columbia University, will be rolling out a plan in May that involves supplying students with abortion pills, the Columbia Spectator reported. The plan to provide the abortion service in the form of mifepristone abortion pills to students was initially announced in the fall of 2022 after the overturning of Roe. V Wade, according to the Spectator. However, the rollout’s delay has been partially attributed to an August 2023 grant the college received, which allowed Barnard to join a large network of primary care providers that will help steer the college through the procedures.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reports Barnard’s Primary Care Health Service will host student focus groups in upcoming weeks to find out student perspectives about the service and to identify new ways to support students considering abortion. “We wanted to make sure that we’re addressing this from every angle that will be supportive of students,” Sarah Ann Anderson-Burnett, director of Medical Services and Quality Improvement of Barnard, told the Spectator. Anderson-Burnett also said it has expanded the availability of its abortion providers to after-hours and year-round.

Barnard has six medical professionals, including two physicians and four nurse practitioners, who are capable of performing the procedure, Mariana Catallozzi, vice president for Health and Wellness and chief health officer of Barnard, told the Spectator. The school also launched a partnership with AccessNurse, a medical call center that will assist with patient concerns related to abortions.

“The training doesn’t end with the clinicians,” Anderson-Burnett told the Spectator. “Clinicians are trained on the actual provision, but there’s also an overall training that will be provided to key partners and stakeholders across the campus because we want every step, every touchpoint, to be supportive and to be trauma-informed and to be patient-valued and centered but also respect confidentiality and privacy.”

The University of Massachusetts Amherst spent more than $650,000 to stock abortion pills in March 2023 at the request of Democratic Maryland Gov. Maura Healey. Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill in May 2023 forcing college in the state to stock abortion pills on campus.

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