Disability rights group sues Texas governor over ban on school mask mandates

A Disability Rights group has sued Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) over his ban on mask mandates in state schools, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Advocacy group Disability Rights Texas (DRT) in a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges that Abbott’s executive order on mask mandates violates the federal discrimination law, which prohibits the exclusion of students with disabilities in public schools. 

DRT is representing students under the age of 12 who have “disabilities or underlying conditions” that can lead to more serious cases of COVID-19, according to the Morning News. 

DRT attorneys argue that prohibiting mask mandates in schools will make it harder for students with disabilities to return for in-school learning. 

“The ban on mask mandates is putting children with disabilities at significant risk and is discriminatory,” DRT attorney Kym Rogers told the Morning News.  “We will do everything in our power to keep the Governor and [Texas Education Agency] from pushing these children out of schools or endangering their lives.”

The lawsuit comes amid Abbott announcing on Tuesday that he has tested positive for the virus, even though he’s been fully vaccinated. COVID-19 cases have surged across the nation due to the highly contagious delta variant. 

School districts in GOP-governed states have set requirements for mask mandates in their schools, defying orders from their state government. 

Stephanie Paresky, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told the Morning News that “its a risk” to send her eight-year-old son, who has multiple disabilities, to school under these conditions, adding that she doesn't want him to miss out. 

“It’s definitely a risk sending him to school, but we want to give him an education that everyone else is receiving,” Paresky said. “We don’t want him to have lesser just because he’s at-risk.”

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