The lawsuits allege that Gov. DeSantis has violated the state constitution by denying disabled students the right to a safe education.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is facing two separate lawsuits over his executive order prohibiting mask mandates in public schools.
According to CNN, the complaints are the first lawsuits to challenge the governor’s constitutional authority to prohibit masks in educational settings across the state.
Gov. DeSantis’s order, says CNN, was issued late last month. In it, DeSantis directed the Florida departments of health and education to create guidance preventing the implementation of school mask mandates.
While DeSantis’s decision quickly attracted criticism, the governor said executive action was needed to “protect parents’ freedom to choose whether their children wear masks in school.”
However, some parents have said that Gov. DeSantis’s actions neglect science and place children in unnecessary danger.
Barry Silver, an attorney and father of three, filed one of the lawsuits. In his complaint, Silver says that one of his children suffers asthma and is too young to receive her first dose of coronavirus vaccine—making mask mandates a practical necessity.
“Florida is among the states with the highest number of Covid-19 victims in the country, and the number of afflicted people is growing rapidly,” Silver wrote in his lawsuit. “The danger to Plaintiff and his children and all others they come into contact with is severe, unreasonable, and growing by the day.”
Silver further alleges that the DeSantis’s order is illegal under the Florida Constitution, which states that “adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools.”
CNN notes that the second lawsuit represents parents with children across the state.
Charles Gallagher, an attorney representing the parents, says that Gov. DeSantis’s order misconstrues the reality of the coronavirus pandemic.
“They are framing this as a parent choice issue when this is really a public health issue,” Gallagher told CNN.
His lawsuit makes similar arguments to Silver’s, stressing that the Florida Constitution guarantees children the right to a safe education.
“The Constitution is equal under law and therefore we think that we are on the right side of these facts,” Gallagher added.
Other lawsuits have since been filed against the state and its mask-mandate prohibition.
Another complaint, says ClickOrlando.com, suggests that the ban on mask mandates violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by effectively exposing medically-compromised children to novel coronavirus.
“By refusing to allow school districts to implement mask mandates, Governor DeSantis has placed an illegal barrier for students with disabilities which is preventing our state’s most vulnerable students from returning to public schools,” the lawsuit states.
While the Florida Board of Education says it will permit students to attend virtual classes if they so choose, the lawsuit asserts that a remote education does not offer the same advantages as in-person instruction.
“Parents,” says the complaint, “are put into an impossible situation of having to choose between the health and life of their child and returning the school.”