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Biden Administration Launches Civil-Rights Probes against Five States over Mask-Mandate Bans

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U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona addresses the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., August 5, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

After President Biden gave the cue to Education Secretary Cardona, the Department of Education has launched civil-rights probes against five Republican-led states that banned mask mandates in public institutions.

The department’s Office for Civil Rights sent letters to education leaders in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Iowa, Tennessee, and Utah. The recipients did not include Florida or Texas, whose governors have been battling school districts in their states over mask requirements for weeks. However, the agency said it is “closely monitoring” the conduct of those states and is prepared to take action against them if warranted.

Monday’s development comes after President Biden directed Cardona to exercise full oversight authority and potentially pursue litigation against Republican states that prohibit mask requirements.

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