Disability advocacy group sues Gov. Abbott over school mask mandate ban

Disability advocacy group sues Gov. Abbott over school mask mandate ban

Isabel Webb Carey
Isabel Webb Carey
|
August 19, 2021

Advocacy group Disability Rights Texas (DRT) sued Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over his ban on mask mandates in state schools.

Last month, Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines, saying that protection against the virus should be a matter of personal responsibility, not forced by a government edict. Yet as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the nation due to the highly contagious delta variant, resistance has grown in school districts across the state.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges that Abbott’s executive order on mask mandates violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits the exclusion of students with disabilities in public schools. The DRT is representing 14 children under the age of 12 who have cerebral palsy, asthma and other conditions that put them at a higher health risk, DRT says that the ban creates an “unlawful barrier” to school districts seeking to provide a safe learning environment for their most vulnerable students.

A growing number of lawsuits now challenge the state’s ban on mask mandates. Meanwhile, Dallas ISD, Austin ISD and Houston ISD have announced that they will require masking in defiance of the governor’s orders and on Wednesday, the Biden administration reinforced its support for those school leaders.

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“I’m directing the secretary of education, an educator himself, to take additional steps to protect our children,” President Biden said at a White House press conference. “This includes using all of his oversight authorities and legal action, if appropriate, against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local school officials and educators.

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Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey

Isabel Webb Carey attends the University of Texas at Austin in the Plan II Honors Program with a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas. Her interests include education, local governance, sustainability, and equity. Isabel enjoys dancing, hiking, and live music. She is also a staff writer for the Texas Orator. Email her at [email protected]
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