FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Broward County Public Schools is getting a bailout by the federal government after the state withheld funds due to the district’s mask mandate.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently cut funding to the BCPS Board when they decided to make masks mandatory in schools. The United States Department of Education is now giving it back in the form of a grant.

“We are very grateful,” BCPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright said. “As previously stated, we had heard from the Biden administration. We’ve also heard from the U.S. Secretary of Education, where he had told us that we are going to ensure that whatever sanctions are happening, that federal funds are going to be available for you.”

The school board on Tuesday was awarded the grant for more than $420,000 to the Project SAFE [Support America’s Families and Educators] Grant Program. The project is an effort to support families and educators.

Last week, the DOE also awarded Alachua County a grant for $147,719 under the same project.

“Let me be blunt: my plan also takes on elected officials in states that are undermining you,” President Joe Biden said. “These governors won’t help us beat the pandemic. I will use my power as president to get them out of the way.”

The United States Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told districts similar to Broward, whose funding was cut, that the federal government has their backs.

He commended the district for safely returning to in-person learning and following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines.

“This is the proof in the pudding, as you might say,” Cartwright said. “This is a once in a lifetime event, to be honest with you, where public schools have direct access to federal funds.”

Cardona released a statement that read in part: “We should be thanking districts for using proven strategies that will keep schools open and safe, not punishing them. We stand with the dedicated educators in Broward County.”

Since August, the Florida DOE has withheld around $35,000 a month from Broward County.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox