Two local families suing Gov. Lee, Shelby Co. over mask opt-out order

SHELBY COUNTY — Two Shelby County families have filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Bill Lee and Shelby County on behalf of their children. The suit alleges Lee’s executive order that allows parents to opt-out of mask requirements for their children at schools violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The suit seeks to prevent parents and students from being able to opt-out of the Shelby County mask mandate issued by the Shelby County Health Department.

The ADA and Section 504 prohibit the exclusion of students with disabilities from public educational programs and activities. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are students with disabilities within the meaning of the ADA that carry an increased risk of serious complications or death if they contract COVID-19.

The students attend West Middle School in the Collierville Municipal School District and Houston Middle School in the Germantown Municipal School District.

Like the lawsuit filed against Gov. Lee by Shelby County Thursday, this suit also cites the governor’s quote: “If you want to protect your kid from the virus or from quarantine, the best way to do that is to have your kid in school with a mask.” It also references the current high numbers of children with COVID-19.

RELATED: Shelby County sues Gov. Lee over mask opt-out order

The suit claims, “the Governor has put the parents of medically vulnerable students in the position of having to decide whether to keep their children at home where they will likely suffer continued learning loss or risk placing them in an environment that presents a serious risk to their health and safety. This brutal choice forces children into a situation that violates Section 504 and the ADA.”

Shelby County is also named in the lawsuit because of its failure to “enforce its own order requiring masking” in schools.