Six parents filed a lawsuit against Northwest Allen County Schools on Sept. 13 over the reimplementation of the mask mandate that went into effect on Sept. 1.
The lawsuit lists Chris and Natalie Forbing, Mike Bell, Jacquelyn and Eric Christman and Andrew Frisinger as the plaintiffs. The parents are suing on behalf of 12 children collectively.
Gov. Eric Holcomb, the Indiana State Department of Health State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, the Allen County Department of Health Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter, Northwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Chris Himsel, Carroll High School Assistant Principal Tanya Pickett, NACS Board of Trustees Vice President Elizabeth Hathaway, NACS Board of Trustees Secretary Kristi Schlatter and NACS Board of Trustees member Ronald Felger are listed as the defendants in the lawsuit.
The initial hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13 at 9 a.m.
“Eighteen months ino the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have returned to normal life,” the lawsuit states. “Businesses have reopened. The streets and public spaces, once eerily silent, now bustle with activity. High school, collegiate, and professional athletes once played in empty venues. Today, they compete in sold-out stadiums overflowing with unmasked, raucous crowds. It seems that everywhere America is moving forward and beyond the COVID-19 restrictions that shuttered countless businesses and transformed daily life. Everywhere, that is, except our K-12 schools.”
The lawsuit states that “students remain subject to arbitrary, irrational, and unscientific rules regarding face masks, contact tracing, and quarantines — measures that serve no legitimate government purpose at this stage beyond foisting an endless state of emergency on K-12 students, teachers, and staff.”
According to the lawsuit, the parents stated that executive orders, department of health policies and local health department guidance have caused NACS to “exclude” thousands of “healthy students from school” because they may be asymptomatic carriers or may develop symptoms later.
The lawsuit continues to say that the defendants have imposed “illegal and unconstitutional mask mandates, contact tracing, and quarantine procedures on NACS students.”
“The Plaintiffs, on behalf of their children, seek declaratory and injunctive relief to protect their constitutional rights to attend school,” the lawsuit states. “It’s time for NACS to focus on educating students, not enforcing the Governor, Department of Health or ACHD’s unlawful mandates.”
In the lawsuit under Statement of Facts, there are 10 titles listed as “COVID-19 Presents Little or No Risk to K-12 Students,” “The Governor Imposed Closures and Restrictions on Schools and Businesses,” “The FDA Issued an Emergency Use Authorization for Use of Face Masks by the Public,” “The Governor, Department of Health, and NACS Imposed Restrictions for On-Site Learning During the 2020-2021 School Year,” “The Department of Health Created a Two-Tier System for Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Students,” “NACS Quarantined the Christman Plantiffs as Presumed, and Siblings of Presumed, COVID Cases,” “In a Suprise Vote, NACS Reinstated a Mask Mandate,” “NACS Rejected the Forbing Plaintiffs’ Religious Exemption for Masks,” and “The Governor and Department of Health Amended K-12 Guidelines to Compel Masking.”
The Claims for Relief, the parents are suing for 10 counts:
- Violation of Emergency Disaster Management Law, IC 10-14-3-1 et seq.
- Violation of Distribution of Powers Clause
- Due Course of Law - Masks
- Violation of Religious Exemption Statue, IC 20-34-3-2
- Violations of Indiana Quarantine Laws (IC-16-41-9-1.5 et seq.)
- Due Course of Law - Quarantines and Contact Tracing
- Vaccine Passport Law (IC-16-39-1-1 et seq.)
- Illegal Search and Seizure
- Equal Privileges and Immunities
- 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Claim (Defendants Dr. Box and Dr. Sutter, in their official capacities)
NACS released a statement on Sept. 20 in response to the lawsuit:
“Our focus remains on meeting the needs of our students. Eventually time and taxpayer monies will have to be redirected from meeting the needs of children to address the lawsuit filed by a few parents. We are confident that the courts will ultimately rule in our favor. Continuing to provide opportunities for students to access learning onsite in a healthy and safe learning environment remains our priority.”
The mask mandate was reinstated during the Aug. 30 NACS Board of Trustees meeting. The mandate is set to continue through fall break.
In a letter sent to parents and guardians of NACS children on Aug. 31, masks are not required in the following situations:
- Whenever six or more feet apart is maintained between and among individuals;
- During activities taking place outdoors;
- Whenever an individual is engaged in high exertion activities, such as athletics, physical education, marching band, etc.;
- Whenever an individual is engaged in eating or drinking;
- Whenever an individual is covered by any other exemption required by federal or state law.
The full court document can be found here.