After failing to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) for how Florida would use federal funding for its schools, Florida will forgo $2.3 billion in COVID-19 relief money.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration said it missed the deadline to submit its plan to the Department of Education (DOE) intentionally since it doesn’t need any additional funds. 

DOE sent a message notifying Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran that his department had missed the deadline to submit a plan for American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund. 

“The Department released the first two-thirds of each state’s allocation in March and required each state to submit its plan for spending its ARP ESSER funds by June. FDOE did not meet this deadline, nor did it meet the July and August submission timelines that were anticipated following conversations with your staff,” the department said in a letter.

In response, DeSantis’ office said that Florida school districts still have enough funds from the first round of federal aid.

“If you are willing to identify any of the specific school districts that have complained, we would be happy to provide you the specifics for those districts. We will continue to ensure their needs are met,” DeSantis’ office said.

In August, DeSantis warned that the state board of education could withhold the salaries of school officials – superintendents and school board – who do not follow the governor’s executive order that bans mandatory mask orders in school districts. The decision came despite the Flordia becoming the epicenter of the COVID-19.

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