This is a developing story and will be updated frequently.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Friday that he has filed a lawsuit against Richardson ISD, after fulfilling his commitment to sue the school districts that send masks.
The district challenged Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning local entities from demanding masks. RISD patrons voted last week to uphold Superintendent Jeannie Stone’s decision to demand facial coverage, after they were forced to close an elementary school due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and a sixth-grader of primary school was admitted to the intensive care unit due to COVID. 19.
Paxton said in a statement that the office plans to file additional lawsuits against districts that violate the governor’s order. This could include Dallas ISD, the first to openly challenge Abbott.
“Not only do Texas superintendents openly violate state law, but they use district resources – which should be used to increase teacher merit or other educational benefits – to defend their illegal political maneuvers,” he said. said Paxton in a statement.
Richardson officials determined that masks are needed to protect students and staff amid a wave of COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant. More than half of public school students are too young to get the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal masking in schools.
“We are seeing that COVID is getting worse. Having to close Brentfield was something that opened our eyes, “Richardson ISD board chair Karen Clardy said during last week’s emergency meeting.” We did it. [Stone] we needed our support right now, more than ever, and we needed to come together to say, “We’re with you.”
Paxton also filed a lawsuit against the Galveston, Elgin, Spring and Sherman school districts, according to a press release.
He has denounced against the dozens of school districts and counties that stood firm in mask mandates, repeatedly posting on social media that he would sue them all. Paxton’s office maintains an ever-evolving list of local entities demanding masks.
Meanwhile, Abbott’s order is tied to both state and federal courts as well as districts, and advocates are pushing for mask warrants to be local decisions.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins is locked in a legal fight with the state over his decision to impose a local mask warrant for businesses and schools.
Disability Rights Texas recently stepped up the legal battle, filing a federal lawsuit against Abbott, alleging that his order unfairly harms children with disabilities.
Richardson is also part of a multi-district lawsuit challenging Abbott’s ban, which argues that the governor’s executive order exceeds his authority and violates local control.
The Paxton Pass could also have federal implications. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has recently opened investigations into five states banning mask warrants, saying those bans may violate federal law designed to protect students with disabilities.
Department officials indicated they had not opened an investigation into Texas because its ban is not being enforced due to court orders.
The DMN Education Lab delves into coverage and conversation on urgent educational issues that are crucial to the future of North Texas.
The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, supported by The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Texas Communities Foundation, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network , Southern Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of Education Lab journalism.