Lee County Schools under pressure to change mask policy after new court ruling

Posted at 12:10 AM, Sep 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-11 00:10:11-04

LEE COUNTY — Lee County Schools tell us the mask mandate is staying in place for now, despite Friday's ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeals reinstating Governor Desantis' ban on mask mandates.

The mandate in place right now was put there as an emergency measure by Superintendent Dr. Ken Savage, but now school board members tell us, with the School District once again in violation of state law, they need to actually take a vote once and for all.

Board Member Melisa Giovannelli said people started reaching out to her within minutes of the court decision Friday.

"I’ve already had lots of emails. Will masks be required on Monday? Well right now I’m going to say yes, masks will still be required as per the Superintendent," said Giovannelli.

The School District confirmed that when we reached out, saying in a statement "It is our position that we are following the FLDOH emergency rule… For now, nothing has changed and the mask requirement remains in place.”

But Giovannelli said, she’s not comfortable being in direct opposition to Governor Desantis’ executive order.

“Now we’re back to breaking the law. So I have a big problem with that, because I took an oath to uphold the law," said Giovannelli.

But some lawmakers are adding even more pressure to Superintendent Savage. In a letter posted to Facebook, State Representative Spencer Roach threatened to call on the Governor to remove Savage from office if the opt-out clause wasn’t back in place by the end of the day on Monday.

“I certainly will follow through with my promise to ask the Governor to suspend or terminate Superintendent Savage if he refuses to rescind his illegal order," said Roach.

It’s not clear if the Governor has that power, but it may not have to come to that. Fox 4 learned School Board Member Betsy Vaughn sent a letter to her colleagues Friday, calling for a special meeting to vote on the mandate.

Giovannelli said that would be the right move.

“I guess I agree with having a special meeting and making the board make that call and that decision," said Giovannelli.