State Watch

Lawsuit claims SC school mask mandate ban discriminates against children with disabilities

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A lawsuit from disability rights groups claims that South Carolina’s ban on school ask mandates discriminates against children with disabilities.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina on behalf of disability rights groups and parents of disabled children, seeks to enjoin the state from enforcing the mask mandate.

The plaintiffs allege that prohibiting a school from imposing mask mandates violates the American Disabilities Act  by interfering with the school’s ability to comply with its obligations toward students with disabilities.

The ban also “illegally forces parents of children with underlying conditions to choose between their child’s education and their child’s health and safety,” the complaint alleges.

The South Carolina legislature passed the ban in June as part of the state’s general appropriations bill.

The ban, Proviso 1.108, states that no school district or any of its schools can use funds to “require that its students and/or employees to wear a facemask at any of its education facilities.”

The complaint alleges that the ban “needlessly and unconscionably exposes South Carolina school children and their families to a heightened risk of infection, hospitalization, and death.”

“It is against this law — and its calamitous consequences — that Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief,” the group said.

Brian Symmes, Gov. Henry McMaster’s (R) communications director, told The Hill in a statement “while we don’t comment on specific litigation, the only truly inclusive option is to allow every parent to decide whether their child will wear a mask in school. That’s exactly what the General Assembly’s budget proviso does in South Carolina.”

The suit comes as school districts in several GOP-led states defy state governments and impose mask mandates at their schools ahead of the fall semester.

A similar lawsuit was filed in Texas last week, in which advocacy group Disability Rights Texas alleged that Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) executive order on mask mandates violates federal discrimination law.

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