The Dallas Independent School District in Texas is going to continue mandating masks for students and staff, in defiance of the state’s Supreme Court ruling upholding Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on doing so.
Dallas-area students are set to return to school this week, under extreme confusion about whether or not masks will be required.
The Texas Supreme Court temporarily halted Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins’ public health order requiring masks in public schools and businesses on Sunday.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office had said in a petition for a writ of mandamus to the Texas Supreme Court that the Texas Disaster Act of 1975 gives the governor power to act as the “commander in chief” of the state’s response to disasters.
Today, SCOTEX has ordered Dallas Co and Dallas ISD to follow Exec. Order GA-38. Local mask mandates are illegal under GA-38.
Let this ruling serve as a reminder to all ISDs and Local officials that the Governor’s order stands.
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) August 15, 2021
In a tweet following the Supreme Court’s decision, the Attorney General’s office tweeted that “the Governor’s order stands.”
However, the superintendent of Dallas schools is not willing to accept that.
“Until there’s an official order of the court that applies to the Dallas Independent School District, we will continue to have the mask mandate,” Superintendent Michael Hinojosa told the Dallas Morning News late Sunday. “After a court rules, then I will comply, if it’s not in my favor.”
“We have 150,000 students. We have 22,000 employees,” Hinojosa said. “You can imagine the number of parents and other people who depend on us as we make decisions.”
The Dallas Morning News reports that “on Aug. 9, before Jenkins had issued his mandate, Hinojosa issued his own mask requirement, saying that it was his responsibility to ensure the health of his employees and the district’s students. Children younger than 12 — essentially all students in pre-K through sixth grade — are not yet eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.”
“As the superintendent of the second-largest district in Texas, I’m responsible for everything — most important, the safety of our students,” Hinojosa told reporters last week.
“I’m a former government teacher. The way it’s supposed to work is the legislative branch makes the law,” he said. “The executive branch is supposed to enforce the laws. Did the executive branch enforce the law or are they making the law?”
The president of teacher union Alliance-AFT Dallas, Rena Honea, has said that they support Hinojosa defying the governor’s ban.
“Certainly we’re disappointed in the ruling, but not surprised,” Honea said. “Obviously, this decision is being made with the health and safety of students and employees in Dallas ISD not considered. We’ll support him if he will stay strong and do what’s right for these families.”