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Sarasota parents fight back against school mask mandate with lawsuit

Parents sued the school board over its mask policy for students.

SARASOTA, Fla. — Parents in Sarasota County have taken the next step in the battle against the school district's mask mandate.

A 59-page lawsuit was filed against the Sarasota County School board on Oct. 21 by parents Amy Cook, Gustavo Collazo, Nicholas Eastman, and Catherine Gonzales. This comes nearly a month after a GoFundMe page was created by Hook to raise money to hire an attorney for legal action. The page surpassed its goal and raised $11,460. 

The lawsuit argues that requiring students to wear masks while at school interferes with the 'Fundamental Right' to receive a free and uniform public education. It claims the 'irrational policy' proposed by the district to protect students has the effect of actually harming them. 

"As of this writing," the lawsuit reads, "there is not one single instance, anywhere in the entire world, where one single school teacher has contracted COVID-19 from a student. Zero cases. Anywhere on planet earth."

Part of the lawsuit also claims the district has placed parents in a position to subject their children to real harm unrelated to COVID-19, both physical and psychological if they choose to send them to school. It goes on to read:

"The policy of mandatory facemask wear for students of tender years leaves parents with little choice: subject their children to a policy that is not in the best interest of their child, or to be compelled to home school their children in a manner that is both separate and unequal, and also results in additional harms unrelated to COVID-19. Most parents cannot make such a choice, given their own work requirements. This ‘Sofie Choice’ is being foisted upon the citizens of Sarasota County in an irrational way, in violation of the Florida Constitution.” 

RELATED: Parents against mask mandate raise more than $11,000 to sue Sarasota County Schools

10 Tampa Bay has reached out to the district for comment. According to a district spokesperson, the school district is not able to comment on pending litigation.

School leaders last Tuesday voted 3-2 to extend the face mask policy through the end of the school year -- June 2021.

As the policy stands now, all staff and students must wear face masks while on campus and school busses. There are some exceptions to wearing a mask, including medical reasons, during breakfast or lunchtimes, and when outdoors and socially distanced.

RELATED: Where Tampa Bay school districts stand on mask policies

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