Richardson ISD is joining La Joya ISD’s lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order preventing school districts from mandating masks.
Trustees voted 5-2 to join the lawsuit during a board meeting Aug. 23. RISD joins several other Texas districts as plaintiffs named in the lawsuit, which requests a temporary restraining order from Abbott and his order.
The lawsuit assert that Abbott exceeded his authority as governor with the order, and that it “limits the rights of RISD as an employer and educational institution to establish necessary safety measures.by preventing Texas school districts from safely teaching in-person.
“This action is about local control,” said RISD board president Karen Clardy in an update from the district. “Locally elected boards of trustees have rights and responsibilities under Texas law to make decisions for their local school districts. With this vote, RISD joins with other Texas ISDs in an effort to protect that local control so school districts can make local decisions based on local conditions to determine what is safe for students and staff in our local communities.”
Trustees Karen Clardy, Eric Eager, Regina Harris, Debbie Rentería, and Megan Timme voted in favor of the motion, while trustees Eron Linn and Chris Poteet voted against it.
RISD announced the day before the start of school that it would be requiring the use of masks on campus despite a block to the Dallas County mask mandate within the courts Aug. 16. RISD instead shared that it will be requiring masks based on a separate court ruling from Travis County, also on Aug. 16. The ruling temporarily restrains Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order against mask mandates in Texas school districts.
Richardson ISD has since been added to a watch list manned by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The attorney general has vowed to sue “every single local entity” that instates a mask mandate.
The district shared that it had received a letter from Paxton informing them that they are not in compliance with the governor’s executive order. RISD did not make any policy changes based on the letter at the time, and believes that it has a legal right to implement a local mask policy based on the Travis County ruling, a district spokesperson said.
A hearing scheduled for Aug. 25 determining the standing of the Travis County ruling was instead met with the lawsuit from La Joya ISD, which RISD is now taking part in as a plaintiff.
The battle over masks is on-going at many levels, with lawsuits reaching appeals courts and the Texas Supreme Court in rapid succession. The state supreme court sided with Abbott Aug. 26 on his school mask mandate ban against Bexar County.
In its ruling, the court granted Abbott emergency relief to enforce the ban while courts decide at the local and state level what the status quo should be.