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Leon schools drops out of an appeal in a lawsuit over local mask mandates

Leon school superintendent Rocky Hanna addresses reporters at a press conference
Patrick Sternad
WFSU Public Media
Leon school superintendent Rocky Hanna addresses reporters at a press conference

The Leon County School district is dropping an appeal to a ruling in a lawsuit over the state’s ban on mask mandates. Leon was one of the last districts in the state to maintain a mandatory mask requirement for pre-kindergarten through 8th graders. The district repealed the mandate last month.


Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna defied Governor Ron DeSantis at the start of the school year by requiring students in grades Pre-k through 8th to wear face coverings. The only way parents could opt out was by having a physician sign off on it. The district held on to its policy, even as the state threatened to fine school board members and lawsuits raged in the courts. Leon, along with six other school districts, were suing the state even as the district changed its policy—no longer requiring a doctor’s note.

An administrative judge recently ruled against the districts—and said the state’s rules on student masking strike a balance in keeping kids safe in school.

Hanna has maintained his reason for bringing the lawsuit is for the courts to state where the line is between local control and state authority.

In a statement announcing the district's exit, Hanna said the district “no longer believes it's prudent for us to pursue a short-term legal remedy to determine where the line is drawn between state rights and the rights of our local school system.”

The superintendent says the district will continue to advocate for local control.

Leon’s withdrawal leaves only four districts continuing with the appeal—Miami Dade, Broward, Alachua, and Duval.

Orange County Schools was initially

a party to the lawsuit but has also dropped out of the appeal.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.