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Missouri AG Schmitt sues dozens of schools over mask mandates

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Just as he had promised earlier in the week, Attorney General Eric Schmitt unveiled a slate of lawsuits against Missouri schools Friday in an effort to halt their mask policies. 

“School districts do not have the authority to impose, at their whim, public health orders for their schoolchildren. That is doubly true when the public health order, in this case, facemasks, creates a barrier to education that far outweighs any speculative benefit,” one of the lawsuits said. “Instead, school districts only have the power to issue those health rules that the General Assembly provides them — and the General Assembly did not give school districts the authority to condition in-person attendance on compliance with an arbitrary mask mandate.” 

Some of the lawsuits list parents as well as Schmitt as plaintiffs, according to the Attorney General’s Office. 

Late last year, Cole County Judge Daniel Green said the state’s health department regulations allowing Missouri’s health director and local health agencies to implement “control measures” were unconstitutional. The regulations allowed health directors to close schools or places of public assembly in the interest of protecting public health during the pandemic. The judge declared those orders void. 

Soon thereafter, Schmitt said school officials do not have the authority to implement mask, quarantine, or other public health edicts. In a letter to the districts, Schmitt said local public health agencies had been instructed to halt their COVID-19 orders following the Cole County ruling and told districts to “stop relying on, enforcing, or publicizing any such orders immediately.” 

“Yesterday, Missouri recorded one of the highest number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began — over 16,000 new cases. Today, using critical taxpayer dollars and resources, the attorney general filed lawsuits against a number of Missouri school districts to prevent locally-elected school boards from instituting health policies that ultimately save lives,” Sen. Lauren Arthur, who represents multiple districts sued Friday, said. “There is nothing more demoralizing to educators, staff, and students than seeing state leaders put politics over the health of kids. A big price all of us will pay for Schmitt’s lackluster poll numbers.”

As of Friday morning, there have been 86 school closings in the month of January in Missouri because of COVID-19, according to statistics provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

Here are the districts the attorney general sued Friday. (The schools are listed in alphabetical order and will be updated throughout the day.)

Affton School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County. 

Brentwood School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

Center School District for its mask mandate in the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Jackson County.

Columbia Public Schools for its mask mandate in the 13th Judicial Circuit Court in Boone County. 

Dunklin R-5 School District for its mask mandate in the 23rd Judicial Circuit Court in Jefferson County.

Ferguson-Florissant School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

Fort Zumwalt School District for its mask mandate in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in St. Charles County.

Fox C-6 School District for its mask mandate in the 23rd Judicial Circuit Court in Jefferson County.

Francis Howell R-III School District for its mask mandate in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in St. Charles County.

Grandview School District C-4 for its mask mandate in the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Jackson County.

Hazelwood School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

Hickman Mills C-1 School District for its mask mandate in the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Jackson County.

Holden R-III School District for its mask mandate in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Johnson County.

Independence School District for its mask mandate in the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Jackson County.

Jefferson City School District for its mask mandate in the 19th Judicial Circuit Court in Cole County.

Kansas City Missouri School District for its mask mandate in the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Jackson County.

Kingsville R-I School District for its mask mandate in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Johnson County.

Ladue School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

Lee’s Summit R-VI School District for its mask mandate in the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Jackson County. 

Liberty School District for its mask mandate in the 7th Judicial Circuit Court in Clay County. 

Lindbergh School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

Maplewood Richmond Heights School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

Mehlville Public Schools for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

North Kansas City Public School District for its mask mandate in the 7th Judicial Circuit Court in Clay County.

Park Hill School District for its mask mandate in the 6th Judicial Circuit Court in Platte County.

Parkway C-2 School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

Pattonville R-III School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

Raytown C-2 School District for its mask mandate in the 16th Judicial Circuit Court in Jackson County.

Rockwood R-VI Missouri School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

School District of Clayton for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

St. Charles R-VI School District for its mask mandate in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in St. Charles County.

St. Louis Public School District for its mask mandate in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis.

Valley Park School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.

Warrensburg R-VI School District for its mask mandate in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Johnson County.

Waynesville R-VI School District for its mask mandate in the 25th Judicial Circuit Court in Pulaski County.

Webster Groves School District for its mask mandate in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County.