A group of parents served a lawsuit against 145 school districts, the Illinois State Board of Education, director of the state Department of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike and Governor J.B. Pritzker in response to their mask mandate.
The lawsuit — delivered at a meeting on Oct. 21 — represents 700 parents and 145 school districts statewide. It alleges that requiring their children to wear masks while in school buildings is an act of overreach on the part of Pritzker, the state health department and the state board of education.
Districts named in the lawsuit include Chatham, Quincy, Mt. Zion, Mattoon, Mt. Pulaski, PORTA, Edwardsville, Carlinville, Jacksonville, Mahomet-Seymour, Teutopolis, and Central A&M.
In addition to the mask mandate, the lawsuit questions school’s right to exclude students from in-person instruction due to possible COVID-19 exposure without a court order from the local health department or parental consent. The parents state that neither the Illinois Department of Public Health nor the Illinois State Board of Education have lawful authority to dictate the districts’ mask and exclusion policies.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Thomas DeVore is the attorney attached to the lawsuit.
It comes the week after DeVore successfully sued to have the statutes of two school districts reinstated after the ISBE sanctioned them for not enforcing the statewide mask mandate.
DeVore argued that both the ISBE and the state superintendent had overstepped their authority by lowering the districts’ standings.
“In several school districts, DeVore has secured temporary restraining orders for students against their school districts, meaning they could attend school without a mask,” reports WREX. “The temporary restraining orders were limited to 30 days before an extension would need to be filed to continue school without masks.”
Governor Pritzker has not yet made a public statement regarding the lawsuit.
With 12,000 students enrolled, District 211 is Illinois’s largest high school district. In August, a freshman refused to wear a mask and was reportedly suspended for one day. A district official told Fox 32 that students are complying.