Central Florida parents file lawsuit over mask mandate ban in schools

A group of parents who have children with disabilities has filed a lawsuit against the state claiming Governor Ron DeSantis' executive order violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Several families with children who have disabilities have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida Department of Education Commissioner, and several school boards.

The group wants an executive order signed by the Governor to be rescinded. The order bars schools from requiring students to wear masks and it also threatens to withhold funding to school boards that don't comply with the directive.

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"It’s just a slap in the face of parents who are sitting here with 48 hours, less than that, trying to figure out what are we going to do with our kids," said Judi Hayes, who is part of the lawsuit.

Gov. DeSantis has said the decision on if students should wear a mask or not should be left up to the parents and not the school district.

"At the end of the day, we've got to start putting our kids first. We've got to look out for their education. Is it really comfortable? Is it really healthy for them to be muzzled and have their breathing obstructed all day long in school? I don't think it is," said Governor DeSantis two weeks ago when addressing media.

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Hayes has a son with Down Syndrome in the Orange County Public School System and still doesn't know what to do for the upcoming school year. She doesn't want to send her son, who is at high risk of contracting the virus, to school unless every student is wearing a mask.

Orange and Seminole County School Districts have made masks a requirement for students, but parents can opt their children out of that requirement.

"The public school option needs to remain safe and accessible for every child and if we’re not imposing a universal mask mandate, it’s not safe for children, like mine, to go to school," Hayes said.

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They're also calling to bring back digital learning this school year. Hayes' son is in general education classes with teaching aids. She says that switching to virtual school wouldn't give him the same aid and curriculum. 

"Now, our child is in a position, and all children with disabilities, are in the same position where it’s just not safe for them to go to school and there’s no virtual option," Hayes said.

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