Parents sue Williamson County School Board over mask mandate

Posted at 11:44 AM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 17:13:59-04

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — A group of parents has filed a lawsuit against the Williamson County School Board over the district's mask mandate.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday and claims that districts who mandate masks are “not only willfully ignoring the established science but are engaging in what amounts to a whole school clinical experimental trial.”

Parents Megan Heim, Kristin McKinney, Sharon Blount and Connie Keffaber filed the lawsuit against the board of education and each board member.

The suit also alleges that “harms for mask wear for children is an increasing concern.”

However, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend universal masking for students ages 2 and older, regardless of their vaccination status.

Monday night, the school board voted to extend the district’s mask mandate for all students, visitors and staff through January 19, 2022, marking the latest update for what has been an often contentious debate.

Williamson County Schools returned to the classroom on August 6 with masks recommended but not required. Just four days later, amid the spread of the delta variant, the board voted to require masks for elementary school students at a specially-called meeting. While the mask debate became heated inside, a group of anti-mask protesters were seen heckling – and some seen threatening – people as they left, prompting the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office to investigate.

Weeks later, the board voted to extend the mask mandate to include middle and high school students.

Although Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order allows parents to opt-out of school mask mandates, two Williamson County families have filed a lawsuit against Lee, saying the order allowing students to opt-out of wearing masks violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Board members said as of Monday, about 30% of students have opted out of wearing masks.

In-Depth: A timeline of the mask debate in Williamson County Schools