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Federal judge ruled Texas school mask ban violated Americans with disabilities law

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Federal judge ruled Texas school mask ban violated Americans with disabilities law

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According to court documents filed Wednesday, independent school districts in Texas could choose whether or not to implement mask mandates for in-person instruction during the 2020-2021 school year. But ahead of the new school year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an order prohibiting, among other things, public schools from requiring students, staff and visitors to wear masks at their facilities.
“Texans, not the government, should decide their best health practices, which is why masks will not be mandated by public school districts or government entities,” Abbott said in May. “We can continue to mitigate COVID-19 while defending the freedom of Texans to choose whether or not to mask themselves.”

Disability Rights Texas, an advocacy group, has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of several Texas families against the Governor, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath, claiming that the spread of virus posed “an even greater risk for children with special health needs.”

Federal judge ruled Texas school mask ban violated Americans with disabilities law

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“Children with certain underlying conditions who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience severe acute biological effects and require admission to a hospital and the hospital’s intensive care unit,” the trial said . “This includes children with conditions such as Down syndrome, organ transplants, lung disease, heart disease and weakened immune systems.”

Federal judge ruled Texas school mask ban violated Americans with disabilities law

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Decision signed by United States District Court Judge Lee Yeakel says “the issue is whether Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-38 violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 “.

“The evidence presented by the plaintiffs establishes that the plaintiffs are denied the benefits of in-person learning on an equal basis with their non-disabled peers. Court finds GA-38 violates the ADA,” the court said. decision.

Following the judge’s ruling, the Texas Attorney General wrote on Twitter: “I strongly disagree with Judge Yeakel’s opinion that my office is prohibited from giving effect to GA-38, which prohibits mask warrants imposed by government entities such as school districts. “

“My agency is considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision,” said Attorney General wrote.
Federal judge ruled Texas school mask ban violated Americans with disabilities law

 |  Latest News Headlines
The move also follows an announcement in September by the civil rights enforcement arm of the United States Department of Education that it was opening an investigation into whether the state-imposed school mask ban was preventing school districts to “consider or meet the needs of students with disabilities.”

At the time, the department said in a letter to Morath that it was “concerned that Texas’ restriction on schools and school districts to put in place masking requirements may prevent schools in Texas from complying with their legal obligations not to discriminate on the basis of disability and to provide an equal educational opportunity for students with disabilities who are at increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19. “


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