Federal Judge Rules Governor Order Banning Mask Mandates Violates Federal Law

Posted on

November 10, 2021

Edie Surtees, Communications Director

Statement Regarding Ruling in Texas Governor Mask Mandate Ban Lawsuit

AUSTIN—Disability Rights Texas is thrilled that the district court confirmed that Governor Abbott’s executive order prohibiting school districts from requiring masks violates the rights of students with disabilities. Governor Abbott’s executive order clearly violates federal law, and Attorney General Paxton’s enforcement of the order against school districts is now stopped.

As the court found, Texas is not above federal law, and state officials cannot prevent school districts from providing accommodations to students who are especially vulnerable to the risks of COVID-19. “We are thankful that school districts can now take the steps necessary to protect these students.,” said Kym Davis Rogers, Litigation Attorney at DRTx. “No student should be forced to make the choice of forfeiting their education or risking their health, and now they won’t have to.”

Parents of the child plaintiffs in the case had this to say about the ruling:

“We are overjoyed that our local school district can now accommodate students like our daughter, who has Down Syndrome and would be at high risk if she got COVID-19. At the beginning of this year, COVID-19 was out of control in our community in Fort Bend. We were relieved our local school board voted for a temporary mask requirement, because that would have allowed our daughter to return for in person schooling she needed. Because of the state’s ban on requirements, the school stopped enforcing the policy almost immediately and we had to keep our daughter home so she would be safe. Our daughter Miranda loves going to school, and we are relieved that that we can work with the school directly to make sure accommodations are appropriate to allow her to attend.” – Karina Pichardo, Houston, TX

“My family is very relieved by the Court’s decision.  For the time being, my child will continue to be protected in school thanks to this decision.  For now, we will not be forced to choose between her health and her education.  It is my understanding that the governor intends to appeal this decision.  I appeal to those who might yet still be persuaded:  please continue to protect my child.” – Julia Longoria, San Antonio, TX

See the full opinion attached below. Read more about the original complaint and subsequently filed motions and briefs.

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Disability Rights Texas is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Texas established in 1977. Its mission is to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law, ensuring their full and equal participation in society. Visit www.DRTx.org for more information.

Attached documents