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Missouri AG Eric Schmitt: New lawsuits against Waynesville, dozens of other school districts over masking

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 3:30 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 21, 2022 at 4:48 PM CST
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WAYNESVILLE, Mo. (KY3) - Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced new lawsuits Friday against dozens of school districts in the state over masking policies in schools.

As of 3:15 p.m. Friday, Schmitt has announced new lawsuits against at least 27 school districts via Twitter. Many of the school districts are in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas.

In the Ozarks region, Schmitt announced a lawsuit Friday against the Waynesville School District. The lawsuit was filed Friday with plaintiffs Samantha Graham and Kalea Bouin, two parents with children in the school district.

The lawsuits come after a Cole County judge ruled in November that Missouri school districts and local health departments did not have the authority to issue mask mandates or quarantine orders. Schmitt sent out letters in December asking districts to cease any quarantine or masking policies.

The lawsuit filed Friday against Waynesville, similar to many others filed, contends that school districts only have the power to issue those health rules that the General Assembly provides them. The General Assembly did not give several school districts the authority to impose a mask mandate, which the lawsuit calls unlawful and arbitrary.

Missouri Minority House Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) sent the following statement on the new lawsuits:

“Today, Eric Schmitt sued dozens of Missouri school districts for taking reasonable and entirely lawful steps to protect their students from a highly contagious disease, steps that became necessary in part because Schmitt bullied them in dropping their mask mandates. Quite predictably, coronavirus infections quickly spread like wildfire among teachers and students, prompting districts to reinstate masks and forcing many schools to close. These lawsuits are beyond frivolous and read more like campaign literature while citing scant legal authority for his position, which is not surprising since there isn’t any.

“Eric Schmitt’s stunning abuse of power is making countless Missouri kids sick and preventing schools from keeping their doors open. He is corrupting his high office for political gain and is unworthy of the authority Missourians have entrusted him.”

Just a few weeks ago, Schmitt filed a lawsuit against Springfield Public Schools, the state’s largest school district. The district recently announced that teachers and staff would be required to wear masks, but not students, when in-person learning is held. The district plans on virtual learning next week due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages.

Schmitt explains the new lawsuits in a one-on-one interview with KY3 attached in this story.

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