The first federal lawsuit against Abbott has been filed by advocacy group Disability Rights Texas, over claims that the governor’s executive order prohibiting mask mandates is risking students with disabilities.
Filed on Tuesday, the suit is aiming to obtain a temporary restraining order to allow mask requirements in local school districts, given that –if infected- complications can lead students with disabilities into life-threatening situations.
Since most districts are limiting their virtual learning alternatives, parents have to make a decision between sending their kids to high-risk schools in order to access education or keeping them home and saving their lives.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Disability Rights’ attorneys argue that by prohibiting school districts from requiring students and staff to wear face coverings, Abbott and TEA are preventing students with disabilities from safely returning to school for in-person instruction.
“There are no viable alternatives for students with disabilities who cannot safely return to school in-person due to the Governor’s Executive Order and TEA’s Guidance,” read a statement by the group’s lawyers. “Defendants’ actions have put parents in the impossible situation of having to choose between the health and life of their child and educating their child.”
The lack of effective prevention measures in schools would also be keeping children with disabilities from receiving the vital services they need, such as occupational therapy and counseling. Which according to the lawsuit, violates federal anti-discrimination law by excluding these children from accessing public education.
“Having to make a choice between my daughter’s education or her life – what kind of choice is that?” said Julia Longoria, mother of an eight-year-old who lives with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a growth hormone deficiency, and moderate to severe asthma. “My child has the right to an education and to be safe at school. I shouldn’t have to choose.”
Governor Greg Abbott, who justifies his prohibition of mask mandates on the freedom to choose not to stay safe, tested positive for COVID-19 and has not yet commented on the lawsuit.