Filed in August with the 425th Judicial District Court, the 72-page petition comes from 15 district parents who are asking for RRISD to be enjoined from enforcing its temporary mask mandate, which is set to expire Sept. 17. A hearing on the requested injunction is set for Sept. 23.
The suit cites Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order banning mask mandates as well as incidents that occurred in the previous school year, when it is alleged that the district's mask requirements created an environment that denied students the opportunity to an education under equal terms.
By requiring students to either enroll in virtual learning or wear a mask while on campus, the plaintiffs allege that the district created unequal circumstances for students to be educated and caused lasting harm to their mental health in addition to forcing parents to leave their jobs to supervise their children who were learning at home.
"Because many parents including [the] plaintiffs strongly object to their minor children wearing face masks for extended periods of time, every day of the school year, children are being sentenced to virtual instruction at home when they fail to follow [the] defendant's mask mandate," the lawsuit states. "Virtual instruction at home does not provide the same level of quality of education as those receiving classroom instruction. If it did, there would not be the need to have brick-and-mortar schools."
According to the lawsuit, parents are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief as well as an award of costs and attorneys' fees from the district.
The district's mask mandate is set to expire three days after its next regularly scheduled school board meeting Sept. 14. Members of the board have stated the mask mandate could be extended, if necessary.
Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, district chief of public affairs and communications, told Community Impact Newspaper that the district would continue following Texas Education Agency guidelines and working with district health partners regarding safety protocols for its students.
"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," LaCoste-Caputo said. "In Round Rock ISD, we do work closely with our health partners who advise us that masks remain a critical tool in keeping our staff, students and community healthy and our schools open."