Politics

Education Department to probe 5 states with ‘unacceptable’ school mask mandate bans

Federal education authorities launched five investigations into statewide school mask bans on Monday.

The Department of Education’s civil rights office will review indoor masking prohibitions in IowaOklahomaSouth CarolinaTennessee and Utah, and examine whether bans in those states violate the rights of students with disabilities. “It’s simply unacceptable that state leaders are putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

“The Department will fight to protect every student’s right to access in-person learning safely and the rights of local educators to put in place policies that allow all students to return to the classroom full-time in-person safely this fall.”

Court orders or other actions have kept those states’ school mask bans from being enforced, the department said. That should allow local schools in those areas to enact mask requirements, though it’s still possible Education Department authorities could pursue similar investigations in those places.

The investigations will hinge on a novel, pandemic-era use of federal civil rights law. In letters to state school authorities whose jurisdictions are now under investigation, federal officials said they’re concerned that restrictions on mask use may keep schools from complying with federal laws that protect disabled students from discrimination. Authorities said the department’s civil rights office has not opened investigations in Florida, Texas, Arkansas or Arizona.  The agency has said that will continue to monitor these states.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BUFFALO NEWS

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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