Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Sept. 10 that lawsuits have been filed against Round Rock ISD and five other school districts for mask mandates that violate the governor's executive order.

RRISD began requiring masks on all district properties Aug. 16.

During the Aug. 16 meeting of the RRISD board of trustees, 180 people signed up to speak about the possibility of a mask mandate and COVID-19 leave policy for district employees, with the majority focused on the mask mandate.

Trustees ultimately voted to approve an additional 10 paid leave days when a district employee tests positive for COVID-19 and self-reports to the district as well as a temporary mask mandate requiring masks to be worn on campus from Aug. 17-Sept. 17.

The board voted on mask mandates for elementary school and high school students, with both votes passing 5-2. The "no" votes came from Place 2 trustee Mary Bone and Place 7 trustee Danielle Weston.

The other school districts that Paxton announced are being sued are Richardson, Galveston, Elgin, Spring and Sherman ISDs.

The news release from the office of the attorney general states additional lawsuits could be filed against school districts and other governmental entities that do not follow Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-38.

“Not only are superintendents across Texas openly violating state law, but they are using district resources—that ought to be used for teacher merit raises or other educational benefits—to defend their unlawful political maneuvering,” Paxton said in a statement. “If districts choose to spend their money on legal fees, they must do so knowing that my office is ready and willing to litigate these cases. I have full confidence that the courts will side with the law—not acts of political defiance.”

The Texas Education Agency updated its public health guidance Aug. 19 to state it will not enforce the governor's order "as the result of ongoing litigation."

"Round Rock ISD is one of approximately 100 school districts across the state to enact mask requirements in an effort to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and community," Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, chief of public affairs and communications for RRISD, said in a Sept. 10 statement. "Current Texas Education Agency guidance provides that school systems may require the use of masks or face shields for adults or students for whom it is developmentally appropriate, and schools should work closely with local health authorities as we weigh operational decisions. In Round Rock ISD, we do work closely with both our local health authorities in Williamson and Travis counties who advise us that masks remain an essential tool in stemming the spread of COVID-19 in our classrooms. Coupled with vaccines for those eligible, masks and face coverings are helping us keep our schools open for the face-to-face learning our students so critically need."

LaCoste-Caputo said the district is not able to offer next steps at this time.

Community Impact Newspaper will update this story as events warrant.