Judge K. Michael Moore of the First U.S. District Court of Florida, decided Wednesday to deny a motion requested by a group of south Florida parents with disabled children, to block Governor DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates in schools.
Filed in Miami, the lawsuit alleges that Executive Order 21-175 (EO 21-175) violates the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as other laws that are meant to assure the rights for students with disabilities.
Moore issued a 34-page ruling on his decision that suggests that the plaintiffs should have sought out administrative claims that are outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in order to provide “unique solutions” for “unique problems” faced by the plaintiffs.
According to The News Service of Florida, Moore’s ruling states, “The court finds all plaintiffs would be substantially benefited by pursuing administrative remedies that can provide tailored solutions to each child’s individual needs.”
Attorneys for plaintiffs argued that EO 21-175 violates disability laws because disabled children are at a higher risk for serious illness or death from COVID-19.
“In refusing to allow school districts to implement commonly accepted protections for these children, such as a mask requirement, the Florida governor and his executive departments have essentially excluded them from the public schools and made parents of children with disabilities have to choose between their child’s life and health, and the rights of other parents who do not want their children to be told they must wear a piece of cloth on their face,” they wrote prior to Moore’s decision.
After his ruling, however, the plaintiff’s attorney Matthew Dietz released a statement to The News Service in opposition to the ruling. He says that because it takes at least 75 days for “administrative remedies” to take effect in Florida, Moore’s ruling, “essentially blocks all children with disabilities who would be seriously injured or die if they became infected with COVID-19 from being able to return safely to their school.”
“We are disappointed in the decision of the court and are evaluating our options at this point,” he added.
Those options include supporting and hoping for an investigation into the mask mandate ban by the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as the current investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil rights that was announced at the end of August.
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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]