There is a local battle for parents' rights that needs to get a lot more attention. Because the School Board of Sarasota County underestimated our community. We will win, and we can show others how to win, too. #sarasota #libertysrq
The call to stop shifting the burden of covid mitigation onto kids is growing. I have only a small window on this effort, so I ask folks like @kksheld, @annbauerwriter, @MdTeryn, @ebennett74, @VPrasadMDMPH to take notice and share. You are a voice of reason to many.
Let's begin: everyone knows Florida has taken several steps to prevent school boards from forcing restrictive interventions on children without the consent of their families. We passed a Parents' Bill of Rights (we didn't have one before?!) The Governor did an Executive Order.
Florida's Dept. of Education and Dept. of Health each passed rules to ensure any covid mitigation restrictions passed by pubic schools would allow parents the ability to opt-out without harassment or discrimination. That's it. They might still opt for masks, but may not force it.
As school got underway, some school boards began to test our resolve. Tentatively at first, then more boldly, some boards began to defy the governor's order, the DOE and DOH rules, and the law protecting parents right to consent (or not.) They denied parents the right to opt out.
During a 5 hour board meeting in #Sarasota, the vast majority of community comments supported #parentsrights. When asked by the Superintendent if the proposed mandate would be legal, the lawyer raised serious doubts. He's been dismissed.…
Parents and community leaders mobilized resistance. Groups like @LibertySRQ and Families 4 Freedom helped educate families about the legal avenues we might take. Everyone has recourse to the law.
As the Superintendent feared, attempting to force restrictions on an unwilling community has been a Sisyphean task. Not only are students whose parents asserted their right to opt-out in writing facing discrimination, those with medical exemptions have also been mistreated.
Why does @sarasotaschools mistreat students with medical exemptions?
The problem was inherent in their original policy. You can't create an all masked environment without harassing and segregating #unmasked kids, even with good intentions (the type that pave the road to Hell.)
Of course when parents trying to work with local schools were told only a "licensed healthcare provider" could sign their opt-out, they quickly realized that their dentist, their therapist, their sister who's a nurse, and others fit this bill. Medical exemptions flooded in.
One local chiropractor became infamous as word got around that he was willing to support parents with a valid reason to exempt their child. People lined up outside his office, until the board realized their control was slipping.…
Here's where things get really bizarre: @sarasotaschools, now under investigation by FL DOE for violating #parentsrights, decided mid-week to change their medical exemption rules. No one knows whether they will reject past exemptions (ex post facto?) Things are temporarily quiet.
Most absurd is their rationale for abruptly changing the rules: the board cites DOH Rule 64DER21-12 (2)(c.) Yes, the same rule which specifies parents must be allowed an opt-out. Section (2)(c) describes when students with covid symptoms or a positive test may return to school.
@sarasotaschools also cites Florida Statute 1003.22(5)(b,) re: exceptions to immunization requirements (not mask mandates.) If it applies, then 1003.22(5)(a,) allowing for religious exemptions, must also apply. Because parents have a right to decide.…
Meanwhile in #sarasotaschools, students are being denied an education. "Employability" points docked for peaceful, respectful refusal to consent to coercion in a compulsory school setting. Kindergarteners bullied by adults, while they plead, "please call my Mom."
These and many more cases of discrimination, coercion, segregation, and harassment are being documented.
Regardless of the effects of mask wearing, these actions are objectively harmful to children. They harm our community, as the trust between parents and schools is eroded.
Many medical experts are outspoken about the harms being done to kids. An MD, DO or ARNP in Florida willing to sign exemptions, stating that covering the face all day is contraindicated, could provide relief to thousands of families while we fight these harmful actions in court.
UPDATE: I was asked how I expect us to win.
The Board is acting in desperation. Dismissing their lawyer. Changing the rules 10 days in. Now they want to be the arbiters of whether a medical exemption was made "in good faith." They're in a hole, and digging deeper.
If Florida doctors won't stand up, parents will turn to religious exemptions next. As the Board scrambles to enforce an unenforceable rule, their tyrannical nature is revealed to all. Parents and teachers can see that compliance doesn't even help.
Whether by the DOE, the courts, or parents standing up in even greater numbers, the three Board members who did this will be defeated.
This week, Seminole and Charlotte counties discussed similar mandates and rejected them.
I think they see the writing on the wall.

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