Texas attorney general sues 6 school districts that have imposed mask mandates

Sept. 13, 2021
The state says the mandates issued in defiance of the governor's ban on mask mandates is "unlawful political maneuvering."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued six school districts that have defied Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on local masking orders.

The Texas Tribune reports that the Elgin, Galveston, Richardson, Round Rock, Sherman and Spring districts were named in the suits for requiring students, teachers, school employees and visitors to don face coverings while on their premises. Paxton says the districts' actions were “unlawful political maneuvering.”

“If districts choose to spend their money on legal fees, they must do so knowing that my office is ready and willing to litigate these cases,” Paxton says. “I have full confidence that the courts will side with the law – not acts of political defiance.”

The U.S. Department of Education announced last week that it is creating a grant program that will cover any fines or withholding of funds that school districts face because of their mask policies.

Some 85 school districts and six counties in Texas have defied Abbott and issued mask mandates. It was not clear why Paxton chose the six districts he sued.

The governor’s executive order bars local officials from compelling people to wear masks. Until this week, Abbott and Paxton have been on defense as several school districts, cities and counties in the state’s major metropolitan areas have sued over the order — or outright ignored it. Districts say a masks mandate is needed  to protect schoolchildren too young to get the vaccine amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of Covid-19.

Abbott and Paxton for weeks have threatened local governments and public schools that adopted masking rules with legal action.

The Texas Education Agency isn’t requiring school districts to comply with Abbott’s ban. That move so far has led the Biden administration to leave Texas out of a federal investigation into a group of states that have blocked districts from mandating masks.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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