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Disability Rights Texas files federal lawsuit against Gov. Abbott over school mask mandate ban

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Advocacy group alleges Abbott’s executive order unfairly harms kids with disabilities

 

Disability Rights Texas filed the first federal lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott over his ban on mask mandates, alleging that his executive order puts students with disabilities at risk.

The advocacy group’s suit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District in Austin, escalates the legal fight over mask mandates that’s been playing out as millions of students head back to school amid a COVID-19 surge driven by the highly contagious delta variant.

“In spite of national and local guidance urging precaution, Governor Abbott’s Executive Order prohibits local school districts from even considering whether to implement the most basic and effective COVID-19 prevention strategy in school settings,” the lawsuit read.

The lawsuit, which also names Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath, asks for a temporary restraining order that allows local districts to require masks if they determine it to be necessary. Two of the 14 plaintiffs are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, from Richardson and Keller ISDs.

Representatives from the state education agency and governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Abbott tested positive Tuesday for COVID-19.

“The ban on mask mandates is putting children with disabilities at significant risk and is discriminatory,” attorney Kym Rogers said. “We will do everything in our power to keep the Governor and TEA from pushing these children out of schools or endangering their lives.”

Disability Rights’ attorneys argue that by prohibiting school districts from requiring students and staff to wear face coverings, Abbott and TEA are preventing students with disabilities from safely returning to school for in-person instruction.

 

Read the full article on the Dallas Morning News website.