Schooling Division investigating 5 states for potential civil rights violations for prohibiting college masks mandates
By Liz Stark, CNN
(CNN) – The Education Department’s Civil Rights Bureau announced Monday that it was investigating five states to determine whether national school masking guidelines discriminate against students with disabilities.
The Department’s Civil Rights Bureau sent letters to senior state school officials in five states – Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah – informing them of new investigations into whether these state mask restrictions are preventing students with disabilities from “safe.” “Return to personal training in violation of federal law.”
Opening this type of investigation, the department said, “does not mean that OCR has determined whether a law enforcing OCR has been violated.”
In Florida, Texas, Arkansas or Arizona no investigations have been initiated “because the bans in these states on universal indoor masking are not currently enforced due to court orders or other state measures,” the agency also stated in its press release. adding that “the department will continue to closely monitor these states and stand ready to take action if state leaders prevent local schools or counties from introducing universal internal masks in schools or if current court decisions are reversed.”
President Joe Biden earlier this month directed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to “evaluate all available tools” to ensure that governors enable students to return safely to the classroom “without endangering their health or the health of their families or communities.” . This includes “considering whether steps should be taken to initiate possible enforcement measures under applicable law,” says a White House memo.
“The department has heard from parents around the country – especially parents of students with disabilities and with underlying medical conditions – how government bans on universal indoor masking endanger their children and prevent them from gaining equal access to personal learning,” said Cardona on Monday in a statement. “It is simply unacceptable that heads of state, the health and education of the students for whom they have sworn an oath, are providing policymakers with placement guidelines that will allow all students to safely return to the classroom this fall.”
In the letters to the five states, OCR further indicated that school mask restrictions in those states “could prevent schools from complying with their legal obligations not to discriminate on the basis of disability, and to provide equal educational opportunities for disabled students who are disabled increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19. “
The CNN Wire
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