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Feds move to block Florida from withholding funding from school districts over mask mandates

The filing comes a day after Alachua and Broward counties said the state reduced their overall funding because they received federal grants.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The U.S. Department of Education has asked an administrative judge to block the state of Florida from slashing federal aid money to two school districts over their coronavirus mask mandates. 

Federal education leaders filed a complaint with the agency’s Office of Administrative Law Judges Thursday seeking a cease and desist order against Florida as well as a ruling that the state is in violation of federal law. 

The filing comes a day after Alachua and Broward counties said the state docked school board salaries and overall funding in amounts equal to federal aid packages meant to offset Florida's financial penalties for mask requirements. 

This is the latest development in an ongoing feud between the White House and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration over coronavirus regulations.

The Biden administration previously warned Florida that withholding federal grant money over mask mandates would be a violation of federal law.

But, a letter from Florida's Commissioner of Education Richard Cocoran claims that the federal government is interfering "unlawfully with Florida's enforcement of its education policy."

You can read Corcoran's full letter to the U.S. Department of Education here.

"The U.S. DOE is acting unlawfully and they have yet to respond to the substance of our prior response," Jared Ochs, Director of Communications and External Affairs at the Florida Department of Education, said in a statement.

"We will continue forward fighting for Florida students’ access to a free and public education.”

The governor's office told 10 Tampa Bay it "shares the Florida Department of Education’s position."