The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represents disability rights organizations and parents of disabled children, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday Aug, 24 challenging a South Carolina law that prohibits school districts from requiring face masks, claiming that the law discriminates against vulnerable students.
The plaintiffs claim that the mask requirements prohibition has a disproportionate impact on pupils with underlying health issues or disabilities who are at danger of becoming very ill if they catch COVID-19 or the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
South Carolina lawmakers added a provision in the state’s general budget, which was enacted in June, prohibiting school districts from utilizing state funds to mandate masks in classrooms. However, some school districts and localities have ignored the restriction and implemented a school mask requirement.
The case was brought in U.S. District Court in South Carolina by parents whose children suffer from a variety of ailments, including asthma and compromised immune systems.
The ACLU stated in a statement: “The ban on mask mandates effectively excludes these students from public schools, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.”
These rules not only make it illegal for schools to deny children with disabilities equal access to education, but they also make it mandatory for schools to offer adjustments so that they can study.
South Carolina’s prohibition was included in a budget proviso earlier this year. As coronavirus infections have surged during the back-to-school season, the state’s Republican governor, Henry McMaster, a defendant in the case, has stood by the policy.
“While we don’t comment on specific litigation, the only truly inclusive option is to allow every parent to decide whether their child will wear a mask in school. That’s exactly what the General Assembly’s budget proviso does in South Carolina” According to Brian Symmes, a McMaster spokeswoman.
Molly Spearman, the state superintendent of education and a defendant in the case, has requested lawmakers to rethink the prohibition on many occasions.
A spokeswoman, Ryan Brown, stated in an email: “Superintendent Spearman has been clear in her support for empowering South Carolina’s locally elected school leaders, with the input from parents and their communities, to make decisions impacting the health and well-being of the students they serve,” adding “We look forward to the Court bringing finality to this issue.”
Last week, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said that the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education was ready to examine any discrimination complaints that surfaced.
In a blog post, Cardona said, “The Department has the authority to investigate any state educational agency whose policies or actions may infringe on the rights of every student to access public education equally.”
Critics of allowing parents to choose whether or not to conceal their children’s faces claim that allowing certain students to enter school facilities uncovered endangers others around them. Although children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible, McMaster has advised South Carolinians to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
President Joe Biden instructed education secretary Miguel Cardona on the same day to look into taking legal action through the Education Department’s civil rights division against states that have blocked school mask regulations and other public health measures aimed at reducing COVID-19 risk.
The Education Department has stated that regulations against mask mandates might be considered discriminatory if they result in dangerous situations that prevent kids from attending school, similar to the ACLU complaint.
South Carolina is one of seven states that have made mask requirements illegal. Florida, Texas, Utah, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Iowa are the other six states. The ban on mask mandates in Arizona goes into effect on Sept. 29.