Two Shelby County families have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of their children alleging that Governor Bill Lee’s executive order, which allows students to opt out of masking requirements in their schools, is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The lawsuit filed on Friday names Shelby County a defendant, alleging the local government was involved in the federal violations by “failing to enforce its own masking order.”
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include GS, a 13-year-old student in Collierville who is immunocompromised and has an educationally recognized disability, and ST, an 11-year-old student in Germantown who also has an educationally recognized disability.
GS is represented in the lawsuit by parents Brittany and Ryan Schwaigert, and ST is represented by their mother Emily Tremel.
In the complaint, “Governor Lee’s executive order to allow parents to opt out of the county mask mandate has made the impossible for parents of people with disabilities who make them more prone to severe reactions to COVID-19 infection Situation that they choose between the health and life of their children and the fundamental right to education for their children. “
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Student ST tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The suit claims ST’s positive test came after Tremel learned that her daughter was exposed to the virus at school from an unmasked student who had the virus.
“Emily Tremel is now taking care of her daughter, whose contact with an exposed schoolgirl has seriously endangered her health,” the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, ST “suffers from a chromosomal abnormality that causes episodic ataxia and congenital nystagmus. One of the main triggers of ST ataxia is an elevated body temperature caused by fever, leading to episodes characterized by inability to stand and difficulty speaking. “
Because of his disability, the Collierville student, GS, is physically unable to wear a mask and “has to rely on his community to take steps to protect him from infection by COVID-19”.
Because of the opt-out regulation, both students are in school with exposed students, according to the lawsuit.
This is a development story and will be updated.
Laura Testino covers educational and children’s issues for commercial appeal. You can reach them at [email protected] or 901-512-3763. Find her on Twitter: @LDTestino
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