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Judge dismisses mask lawsuit against Hillsborough County Schools

The lawsuit was brought on by a group of parents who argue they should be the ones to decide if their children wear face masks in school.

A judge in Hillsborough County has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Hillsborough County Schools' face mask mandate.

The lawsuit, brought on in August by a group of parents, sought an injunction against the district and Superintendent Addison Davis. 

The group alleged the district's reopening plan, specifically the mask requirement, violated their "fundamental right" to free public education for their kids and "interferes with the parental right to determine medical treatment for their child," the judge's order reads in part.

The parents also argued that being forced into remote learning if they're unwilling to comply with the mask mandate is an inadequate alternative.

Jason Margolin, an attorney for the school district, says the school board and Superintendent Addison Davis were acting within their authority when they made face coverings a requirement to attend in-person classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The government can require vaccinations before you go to school, and this is much less than that,” Margolin said earlier this week. "And provides justification for the court to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims.” 

In the order, Judge Martha J. Cook wrote in part: 

  • Davis is "not a proper defendant in this action," 
  • Free public education is not a fundamental right under the state constitution but rather a "fundamental value"
  • "The Court need not evaluate the correctness of that guidance and science to determine that the School Board had a rational basis for implementing the face covering requirement..."
  • The court found that the district's reopening plan is constitutional

Read the full order below:

CIRCUIT CIVIL DIVISION AUCELLO; MATT and PRISCILLA POAGE; JUSTIN and GRACE WARNIMENT; ELIZABETH Case No: 20-CA-6452 HAGAN; MIKE MILLER; ROBERT Div.: G and EVELYN GRIFFITH, Plaintiffs, v. HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, FLORIDA, and SUPERINTENDENT ADDISON DAVIS, Defendants.

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