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Judge dismisses parents' lawsuit against Indian River County School District mask mandate

'We were hoping for optional masking for our students,' parent says
Posted at 10:41 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 00:00:40-05

VERO BEACH, Fla. — Facemasks will remain mandatory in Indian River County schools following a failed attempt by four parents to sue the school district over a mask mandate they felt was unconstitutional.

Circuit Judge Janet Croom dismissed the lawsuit, saying there was nothing unconstitutional about the mandate, nor does it violate any parent or student rights.

"It was very disheartening, to be honest with you," said Jennifer Pippin, one of the four parents in the lawsuit. "We were hoping for optional masking for our students, optional masking for the teachers, the staff."

In October, the parents filed the lawsuit, arguing, in part, that the mandate violated their rights to free and uniform education by requiring virtual school for children who will not wear a mask. They also worried about health issues and learning challenges they felt the masks presented for some students.

Pippin and the parents also argued that the mandate strips parents of their right to make medical decisions for their children, which a judge disagreed with, saying the mandate does not infringe on a parent's right to determine medical treatment for their child.

"My children weren't personally having [health] issues with it, but so many children were," Pippin said.

A school district spokeswoman issued the following statement:

"We are pleased with the court's detailed and prompt ruling on these important issues. The district continues to work with its students, families and staff in implementing appropriate learning environments for everyone."

Pippin said they are exploring appealing the ruling.