Fried seeks funds for schools after DeSantis threatens to withhold money over mask mandates

With school around the corner, masks are once again a hot button issue, and a political firestorm is at the center of it all. 

For weeks, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made it clear how he feels about masks in schools.

"Parents can make decisions how they want to, and we wouldn't restrict that. But we certainly will not have any mandates on students and on parents in the upcoming school year," he has repeated over and over.

DeSantis has also threatened to withhold funding sources should a district go against his order and impose a mask mandate. 

Now, one of his chief critics, Florida Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried, is firing back. 

"I’m working with the White House to see if there are additional resources that could come down from Washington DC," said Fried. 

Fried is seeking the Democratic nomination in a bid to challenge DeSantis in 2022.  She questions whether DeSantis pulling funding for schools would even be legal. 

"If this governor does what he is threatening to do and holds back money from them if they make the right decision for their communities, first of all, I don’t know if that is even constitutional."

The governor said his decision-making is all based on the children.

"At the end of the day, we've got to start putting our kids first. We've got to look out for their education."

But some are over the politics of it all. 

"I don’t think it’s a government thing. I know it’s a safety issue, but at the same token, yeah I think the parents should make the decision," said Mark DeFilippo, who lives in Casselberry.

Alachua, Broward, and Duval counties are moving ahead with mask mandate efforts despite the governor’s statements.

Watch FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.