Students with disabilities file federal lawsuit against Texas Gov. Abbott, TEA over mask mandate ban

Disability Rights Texas filed the lawsuit on behalf of 14 child plaintiffs

(Julie Moreno, KSAT)

Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-38 that bans mask mandates in Texas is facing its first federal lawsuit.

Disability Rights Texas filed the lawsuit on behalf of 14 child plaintiffs saying the ban violates federal anti-discrimination law under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

It names Abbott along with Mike Morath, the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, and the TEA itself as plaintiffs.

“Plaintiffs are students with disabilities and underlying medical conditions which carry an increased risk of serious complications or death in the event that they contract COVID-19. These conditions include Down syndrome, moderate to severe asthma, chronic lung and heart conditions, cerebral palsy, and weakened immune systems and have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) as risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection,” the lawsuit states.

According to a press release from Disability Rights Texas, one of the plaintiffs is an 8-year-old student in the San Antonio Independent School District who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a growth hormone deficiency and moderate to severe asthma.

“Having to make a choice between my daughter’s education or her life – what kind of choice is that?” the girl’s mother, Julie Longoria, was quoted as saying in the DRT’s press release. “My child has the right to an education and to be safe at school. I shouldn’t have to choose.”

The lawsuit asks for a temporary restraining order that would allow local school districts and local public health authorities to require masks as deemed necessary.

While this is the first federal lawsuit aimed at GA-38, Abbott’s order is facing a number of lawsuits from cities and counties in Texas, including one from Bexar County and the City of San Antonio.

On Aug. 10, a Bexar County Civil District Court Judge granted a request from officials with Bexar County and the City of San Antonio and issued a temporary restraining order against Abbott’s executive order allowing the Bexar County Health Authority to issue a health directive with a mask mandate for schools. Days later, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, temporarily banning mask mandates in Bexar and Dallas counties but allowing local injunction hearings to proceed. On Monday, 57th Civil District Court Judge Toni Arteaga ruled in favor of Bexar County. The mask mandate on public schools and city employees will remain in effect in Bexar County until a trial is scheduled unless higher courts reverse the decision before then.

Read the lawsuit from Diversity Rights Texas below:

Also on KSAT:

About the Author:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.