by Elizabeth Troutman
Republican gubernatorial candidate Steven Gaynor wants Gov. Doug Ducey to issue an executive order in response to local school mask mandates.
Gaynor is a Republican businessman from Paradise Valley who announced his run to replace Ducey in 2022. He narrowly lost to Katie Hobbs in the 2018 race for secretary of state.
In an Aug. 9 press release, Gaynor asked for an executive order to provide Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA) to parents of students in school districts that enforce mask and vaccine mandates.
The ESA program from the Arizona Department of Education provides eligible parents with public funding to customize their children’s education through a variety of personalized education expenses, such as private school tuition, tutoring services, and textbooks.
Gaynor also called for Ducey to inform parents with school-age children of their rights and their options for public, charter, and private school choices in their area.
“A pandemic is not the time or a reason to deprive parents of freedom of choice; protecting freedom of choice is more important now than ever,” Gaynor wrote.
Gaynor said his recommended executive order would protect school choice in Arizona.
“Some Arizona school districts are enforcing mask and vaccine policies that are in direct conflict with Arizona law,” he said.
For instance, the Phoenix Union High School District (PUHSD) is requiring that students and teachers wear masks at school, despite state law’s prohibition of school mask mandates.
He said that a special session of the legislature was not the answer to the problem. Rather, he proposed “executive action that will give families the freedom to choose a school that is aligned with their values and preferences regarding masks and vaccines.”
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Elizabeth Troutman contributes to The Center Square.