Judge Rules School Mask Mandate Ban in Texas Violates Disabled Students’ Rights

A federal judge in Texas ruled on Nov. 10 that Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order banning mask mandates in schools violated the rights of disabled students.

Judge Lee Yeakel overturned the school mask mandate ban, ruling that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because the ban denied disabled students “the benefits of in-person learning on an equal basis as their peers without disabilities.”

“Children with certain underlying conditions who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience severe acute biological effects and to require admission to a hospital and the hospital’s intensive-care unit,” Yeakel wrote in the 29-page ruling.

The ruling prohibits Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from enforcing the order, which Abbott signed in July and imposes a fine of up to $1,000 for any entity that issues a mask mandate.

Advocacy group Disability Rights Texas (DRTx) filed the lawsuit in August, arguing that the ban denies children with disabilities equal access to a safe education.

“As the court found, Texas is not above federal law,” DRTx said in a statement.

“No student should be forced to make the choice of forfeiting their education or risking their health, and now they won’t have to,” DRTx Attorney Kym Davis Rogers said.

Abbott’s Press Secretary Renae Eze described the court decision as “flawed.”

Eze said in a statement that Abbot “is working with the Attorney General’s Office to appeal that decision in order to protect Texans’ rights against school districts attempting to impose mask mandates.”

Paxton said on Twitter that his office “is considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision.”

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