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Children “used as bargaining chip” in the feud between Superintendent Simon and Governor DeSantis

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

The feud between Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) and the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE), serving as a proxy for Governor Ron DeSantis, is now in its third day, with ACPS Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon authoring an op-ed in the Washington Post and Governor DeSantis continuing to insist that Florida’s statutes and emergency rules require that parents have the final decision on whether their children will wear masks. FLDOE has issued a letter threatening to withhold funds for the school board members’ and superintendent’s salaries, and ACPS has issued a response stating that they will continue to require a physician’s or ARNP’s signature on mask exemption forms.

While the letters and public statements fly back and forth, children are the ones who are paying the price when families decide to assert their rights under Florida’s new Parental Rights Bill. After the Florida Department of Health issued the emergency rule stating that “the school must allow for a parent or legal guardian of the student to opt-out the student from wearing a face covering or mask,” the Green family in High Springs submitted mask exemption forms for their first-grader and fifth-grader with parental signatures. They were informed by email at 5:30 a.m. on the first day of school that the forms would not be accepted without a physician’s signature and diagnosis. High Springs Community School Principal Lynn McNeill also left them a voice mail, saying that all principals were advised by the Superintendent that if children do not wear masks and do not have an approved exemption form signed by a physician, the school must call the parents to come get them. McNeill reminded them that Hope Scholarships are available for students who wish to transfer to private schools or other districts.

However, the parents, Ryan and Joan Green, say that as Alachua County taxpayers, they intend to send their children to their zoned school: “We are not inconveniencing ourselves to go to another school, in another county, because the Superintendent is breaking the law.”

The Greens were summoned to pick their daughter up on the first day of school because she was not wearing a mask, and both children were turned back on the second day of school. The family is now asking how their children will be educated; some books have been sent home, but the Greens say that is not acceptable. They say that they have sent four emails to Superintendent Simon, asking for her plan to educate children whose parents don’t want them to wear a mask, without a response. They say they will continue to take their children to school until they are informed in writing that their children will be refused an education if they don’t wear a mask. Ryan Green told us, “They’re using the kids as the bargaining chip between [the district and the state].” Green said his daughter is a “social butterfly” who loves school and is unhappy that she has been sent home but is determined to not give in to the pressure to wear a mask.

Another family that spoke with us but didn’t want to be identified said they had submitted mask exemption forms that were completed by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, with diagnoses listed on the forms. They found out the night before school started that the forms would not be approved because they weren’t signed by a physician or ARNP. Licensed Clinical Social Workers are authorized to initiate an involuntary Baker Act examination in Florida, but Alachua County Public Schools has determined that they are not qualified to identify conditions that qualify children for mask exemptions.

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We spoke with a doctor’s office that told us Superintendent Simon herself called to ask questions about exemption forms that were submitted.

In response to a question about the Green family, ACPS Public Information Officer Jackie Johnson said it would be inappropriate to comment on specific students, but “I can tell you that the school is following the protocol approved by the School Board during its last meeting to require masks for all students. The opt out options for parents are a form signed by a qualifying medical professional (licensed medical doctor, licensed doctor of osteopathy, licensed advanced registered nurse practitioner). The state is also offering parents who prefer a different setting for their child a Hope Scholarship (voucher).”

Christina Pushaw sent the following statement from the Governor’s office: “It’s clear that Alachua’s school board officials and superintendent are all about politics — not education. It’s a shame that any child would be sent home with an unexcused absence for declining to wear a mask. This is detrimental to kids’ academic, emotional, and social development. That’s why Governor DeSantis signed the EO to protect parents’ rights to choose whether their children wear masks or not. The Alachua superintendent and school board are clearly in violation of the state rules – and they will be subject to consequences if they do not immediately revise their policy to comply with the law. Education leaders should put kids first, and with outrageous and unlawful policies like this, Alachua is putting kids last.”

 

  • I’m surprised the ACPS superintendent doesn’t
    Make the children who do not wear a mask just wear
    A big scarlet letter too. I guess she’s a segregationist…if she’s one of these critical race theorists, maybe she’ll want to separate the
    Black kids from the white kids next. The ACPS system
    Is a microcosm of Hitlers’ Nazi Germany…Just put
    Those Jewish (no mask) kids in a railroad boxcar
    And send them to Aushwitz. Or, are the kids in the
    Classroom the ones in the concentration camp?
    Hey, teachers, leave them kids alone! —Desantis needs
    To shut the whole ACPS system down and not release
    The 45% of their budget. If the teachers don’t want
    To teach kids without masks, have them removed and
    Replace them with teachers who will. Quarantine the sick, not the healthy is what medicine has done in the
    Past…this is all political stuff indoctrinating children
    Into the collective mob. No constitutional rights for
    The children…looks like the hitler youth program
    All over again. Oh, that’s right…re-write history…the
    Holocaust never happened…”he who sacrifices liberty
    For safety gets neither”…

  • Teachers should just walk out and let the parents teach their own dam mask less kids. And when everyone in the house gets sick and heads to the hospital check for vacinne card at the door. if the parents are not not vaccinated they are not allowed in the hospital. darwinism theory at work. Let the stupid die off.

    • Unfortunately, the useless eaters who took the experimental Vax may be the ones dying. Don’t you
      Believe that women should be in charge of their own
      Bodies? Don’t you believe in the US constitution &
      Liberty? I have faith in god, not Fauci. My immune
      System works fine. The Vax is a biological weapon.

    • Jason, such bitter vitriol on parents & children…such
      Hatred …turn yourself inside out & look at the world
      With fresh eyes. You sound like a horrible tyrant
      And there you go with the fear tactics…”ooo, people are dying”…you use the death card and the race card
      To divide..Darwin you say? It’s survival of the fittest
      And rule of the jungle that survive…not the week,
      Sickly, immune compromised that need to get a flu
      Shot. Put on your mask and hide in the closet…yeah,
      Invisible enemy. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.
      You need to fear god…the big wheel turns by the Grace of god. You are so deluded in your thinking…god
      Bless America, our inalienable rights, & the US constitution!

    • Had you been born 1,000 years ago, or even 100 years ago, you likely would have been a dignified man, bold enough to step out into the world and confront it head on.

      Instead you were born in the modern era and quiver at the sight of a maskless child or unvaccinated neighbor. It is sad.

      Please put your mask back on and leave the rest of us alone. Thank you.

    • Jason, who wishes he was an Argonaut…Some teachers, the brainwashed anyway, did walk out on their students last year. Decided to try teaching from home. Some were committed to the success of their students – others, not so much. Nice when you don’t have to get up and go do the work you’ve been contracted to do. Some of these same teachers, although they avoided the classroom, somehow found their way to the mall and/or restaurants. Maybe it is Darwinism that is driving masks’ mandates. The fear-mongering leftists are obviously the ones living in fear. Fear they’ll lose control of the people they have enslaved to their $oci@li$t’s ideology.

      I find it amazing that these liberal idiots insist on a vaccine passport to conduct business but throw up objections and anything else they can get their hands on when it comes to providing identification to vote. Bunch of liberal hypocrites!

      Keep on believing…

  • So, believe in the collective mob & communism or die? I believe in
    God, freedom, & the US constitution…go to CCP and
    See if you like it there. You and your comrades can all be equally miserable , or is it equitably miserable?

  • Is the governor’s order legal? Is SBAC breaking the law? At the moment yes on both! But this will be resolved in the courts.

  • The pediatricians are pre-emptively DENYING these forms too! My kids appointment (Yearly) isn’t for another week and I got a call saying we are not going to get one, don’t ask. The doctor hasn’t even SEEN my kid! I wonder if these doctors are afraid to actually practice medicine under threat of loosing their license. Carlee Simon also said they are investigating DOCTORS signing forms!

  • Everywhere masks have been tried they have made no difference in viral transmission. The pablum puking neurotic leftists in this county however, are afraid of their own shadow, and must delude themselves into thinking they are protected by their face diapers. The filthy face diapers have become part of a cult religion which is part of the psychosis afflicting the spineless virtue signalers. They will save the world with their face diapers. So they think.

    • They have made a difference.

      No influenza outbreaks, other airborne illnesses are not as transmissible as well. Maybe it’s just the flu is too big to fit through those tiny little threads of assorted fibers, linens and coverings being used as the last line of defense…NOT!

      Yet THEY keep on believing…

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