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Alachua County Public Schools files challenge to DOH rule

mother putting a face mask on her daughter
Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Alachua County Public Schools is one of six Florida school districts filing a joint challenge to the latest Florida Department of Health (FDOH) emergency rule preventing districts from adopting universal masking protocols and requiring students who have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home. The petition can be read here.

The counties are Alachua, Broward, Duval, Leon, Orange, and Miami-Dade. The petition challenges Florida Department of Health Emergency Rule 64DER21-15 as an “invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority” and says the rule is “actually focused not on controlling COVID-19 but rather on protecting parental rights. The DOH does not have rulemaking authority in this area, and thus exceeded its rulemaking authority.”

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Among other claims, the petition says that FDOH did not undergo the regular rulemaking process, that FDOH has exceeded its rulemaking authority, that the opt-out provisions improperly go beyond the provisions in the Parental Bill of Rights, and that the opt-out requirements are vague and “arbitrary or capricious.”

The petition asks the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) to enter an order ruling that the opt-out requirements “constitute an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority” and award costs and attorneys’ fees to the districts.

The districts filed a similar challenge to the previous emergency rule, but that challenge was dismissed when the previous rule was replaced by the current rule a few days before the scheduled DOAH hearing.

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