ST. LOUIS — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed lawsuits against dozens of school districts across the state calling on them to stop enforcing mask mandates.
In total, 36 school districts were sued throughout Missouri. Twenty school districts are in the St. Louis area, including St. Louis Public Schools, Parkway, Francis Howell, Fort Zumalt, St. Charles, and more.
In the lawsuits, the attorney general and over 70 parents claim schools don’t have the authority to enforce the mandates, calling them unlawful and illegal.
“There’s a body of evidence that shows the psychological and social harms from the forced masking of kids,” said Schmitt. “So we’re taking them to court. We’re going to fight on behalf of parents and the ability for people, individuals and families to make these decisions themselves.”
Many of the schools dispute this, saying the power resides within the local school districts.
“It’s been a local control issue, schools boards, superintendents working to figure out how best to keep their doors open and work with communities, and now 22 months in we have somebody saying no that’s not your decision to make and that’s frustrating,” said Paul Ziegler, the CEO of Education Plus.
Roughly every ten minutes Friday, Schmitt’s Twitter announced another school district was being sued. His feed read like a laundry list of consequences, yet school representatives said they haven’t actually received the lawsuit yet and thus have no comment yet. This includes St. Louis Public Schools and a myriad of others.
One school district that did react publicly is the Francis Howell School District. The district released the following statement:
“As we’ve said all along, we have consulted with our legal counsel and are confident that our Board of Education has the authority to establish mask requirements and other mitigation measures. The Attorney General is not elected to make decisions for Francis Howell students and staff. That responsibility lies with our locally elected school board members, and the mitigation measures they have enacted helped keep our schools open for in-person learning, which we know is important for our students and families.
Our community and especially our elected officials should be celebrating and supporting schools during this challenging time, not suing them. The lawsuit filed by Schmitt is a waste of taxpayer money – on both sides. The claims are tenuous at best and this unnecessary lawsuit represents another attack on public education in Missouri. This latest action by AG Schmitt is disheartening, unfounded, and frankly, shameful.”
“You’re taking public funds to sue a public entity that will use public funds to respond to that lawsuit, frankly it’s a waste, we can do better,” said Ziegler.
For now, schools talk to their lawyers, awaiting the lawsuits to come.
In the meantime, as schools wait on the lawsuits to arrive, spokespeople said they will continue with their mask mandates as it stands. After getting their hands on the lawsuit, administrations will discuss with their lawyers what to do next.
List of St. Louis area schools facing lawsuits:
- Francis Howell
- Fort Zumwalt
- St. Charles
- Dunklin R-V
- Fox C-6
- St. Louis City
- Valley Park
- Webster Groves