Parents sue over Arkansas school district’s mask mandate

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 12:06 PM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Three parents are suing over a northwest Arkansas school district’s decision to require face masks after a judge blocked the state’s mask mandate ban.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday over the Bentonville School District’s mandate argues the local school board had no authority to impose the requirement. The parents are asking a Benton County judge to temporarily block the district from enforcing the ban while they challenge it.

The parents are “forced to choose either to exercise their fundamental liberty interests in refusing to place face coverings on their children against their will or for the children to face expulsion from school,” the lawsuit said.

Public health officials have urged schools to require masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus due to the highly contagious Delta variant. Arkansas ranks fourth in the country for new cases per capita, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University researchers.

More than 70 public school districts and charter schools have imposed mask mandates since Arkansas’ ban against them was blocked. The requirements cover more than half of the state’s public school students.

“Our legal counsel is currently reviewing the matter and we look forward to a vigorous defense of our district,” Leslee Wright, a spokeswoman for the Bentonville School District, said in a statement.

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