Crist Hails Biden Order Protecting Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities

U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-FL) released the following statement following reports that the Biden Administration will investigate civil rights complaints from families concerned that restrictions on masking in schools violate their children’s rights to a free and appropriate public education. This comes after Crist sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urging them to protect the rights of students with disabilities throughout Florida to attend school safely in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504. 

“On Friday, I called for federal action to protect students with disabilities from Governor DeSantis' reckless ban on mask requirements - a ban that violates the civil right to a safe and equitable public education,” said Rep. Crist. “I'm thrilled to see President Biden answering our call, ordering the U.S. Department of Education to investigate Florida's abuses of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504, and to take action if the state's actions put children with disabilities at risk."

"No parent should be forced to choose between their child's life and their education - but with COVID raging out of control in Florida with the help of our Governor, this is the choice parents must make every day. By banning commonsense health measures and threatening to defund school districts, Governor DeSantis is allowing COVID-19 to run rampant in Florida's schools, overwhelm our hospitals, and force thousands of students and teachers into quarantine and out of the classroom. Both virtual learning and the virus have a disproportionately negative impact on students with disabilities, and they – and all of our students, frankly – deserve to be in schools that are open, fully funded, and safe."

A PDF of the August 13 letter sent to the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education can be found here.

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