In two stories published by the Tampa Bay Times, Edward G. Guedes discussed that potential attempts by legislators to expand the Governor’s powers allowing him to remove appointed superintendents, would violate the Florida Constitution and continue the steady stream of legal challenges to recent legislative and administrative action.
The standoff occurring in school districts across Florida over mask mandates could shift into the Florida Legislature as Republicans consider a session to expand the law that allows for the suspension or removal of superintendents who have opposed the Governor’s order forbidding mandatory face coverings to protect against COVID-19.
“The Legislature cannot come along and suddenly bestow new powers on the Office of the Governor, not when the Constitution specifically speaks to what those removal powers are,’’ said Guedes.
Guedes, who is representing the Miami-Dade County school district, has also asked the Third District Court of Appeal to review the validity of the Aug. 6 Department of Health emergency rule requiring schools to include an opt-out clause in any mask rules they adopt. The Department of Education has invoked the rule in an effort to keep 10 school districts, including Hillsborough County, from imposing mask mandates.
According to Guedes, the Department of Health is supposed to be the agency dealing with communicable diseases and regulating health matters, but its “emergency” rule only offered suggestions on when and how to quarantine and related issues.
The legal challenges by school districts are expected to continue in state and federal courts, as school boards have asked their attorneys to protect their authority to adopt policies they determine to be in the best health and safety interests of students and staff.