Northland parent group sues Kansas City area school districts over mask mandates

Tracking Coronavirus

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Northland parents group is suing more than a dozen Missouri school districts and boards of education over indoor mask mandates.

The mayors of Kansas City and North Kansas City, as well as city council members from those two cities, are also named in the lawsuit.

The federal lawsuit was filed by the Northland Parent Association. The group said it is made up of Clay and Platte county parents who are working to have their children’s best interest in mind.

“It’s my choice how I raise my child,” said Julie Bell, secretary of the group. “It’s not part of the school districts choice.”

Bell said she attempted to get a mask exemption for her son but was denied. She said even after sounding off during board meetings, they feel they aren’t being heard.

“As parents, it is our job to know and understand our children, and we will know their health the best,” said Jay Richmond, NPA president.

The group’s lawsuit claims the mask mandates in place in Excelsior Springs, Kearney, Liberty, North Kansas City, Smithville, Park Hill and Platte County school districts are unconstitutional, unreasonable and illegal. The suit claims the mandates violate the rights of students to get an equal education because students who refuse to wear masks will be suspended.

“It’s time for people to stand up, I’m not waiting for anybody else. Our group is not waiting for anybody. We are going to stand for our kids,” Richmond said.

The group also said parents weren’t given enough notice about meetings where mandates were decided. The Northland Parents Association also believes that boards of education fall under a new state law. The law requires governing bodies to meet every month to vote on whether the mask mandates should be extended. The lawsuit states that the mandates in question are open ended.

The lawsuit also states that while the districts said parents can ask for their children to be exempt from the mask mandates, the districts did not include religious beliefs or conscientious objections to be included in the exceptions. It also claims that requirements for medical exemptions are inconsistent and have changed.

The lawsuit lists numerous studies from other countries that show children are not as susceptible to the Delta variant, the variant is not as deadly in children, and closing schools has little effect on disease spread.

The lawsuit also cites studies that show masks fail to provide adequate protection against COVID-19 and its variants, and that masks offer a false sense of security to the people who wear them. The lawsuit also points out that many people do not wear masks correctly.

The lawsuit says that children who are forced to wear masks are suffering because of the mandates. It claims children complain of headaches, irritability, difficulty concentrating and a number of other issues.

Many of the studies listed in the lawsuit are in direct contrast to what local doctors and health experts have said publically about COVID-19 over the past 18 months.

Each board of education listed in the lawsuit passed a mask mandate for its school district. The mandates require students, employees, and visitors to wear masks while inside school buildings. Districts with schools in Kansas City, Missouri and North Kansas City decided to implement the mandates to follow city ordinances.

Representatives of some of the school districts were surprised by the news. A spokesperson for the Park Hill School District said they didn’t even know about the lawsuit until media contacted them.

In a statement, the North Kansas City Public School district “decisions are being made based on what is needed in the community at that given time.”

The following are named in the lawsuit:

  • Excelsior Springs School District
  • Excelsior Springs Board of Education
  • Kearney School District
  • Kearney Board of Education
  • Liberty School District
  • Liberty Board of Education
  • North Kansas City School District
  • North Kansas City Board of Education
  • Smithville School District
  • Smithville Board of Education
  • Park Hill School District
  • Park Hill Board of Education
  • Platte County School District, Board of Ed
  • Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas
  • Kansas City, Mo. City Council
  • North Kansas City Mayor Bryant DeLong
  • North Kansas City, Mo. City Council

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas issued the following statement on the lawsuit:

“As it has been since the onset of this pandemic, my primary objective when it comes to Kansas City’s COVID-19 response is to save lives. No lawsuit will change that. Still, I’m saddened to see yet another lawsuit filed today over masking without merit under Missouri law—just like the suits filed against us before, including the Missouri Attorney General’s own politically-motivated stunt.

“The City has crafted each set of COVID-19 guidelines based on clear, data-driven advice from health and scientific leaders from the White House and CDC down to our Health Department. Our City Council—including three of the four members from Kansas City’s Northland—have codified this indoor mask mandate in places of public accommodation for this reason: masking works to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Children 12 and under are not yet eligible to be vaccinated; meanwhile, COVID-19 cases in children continue to skyrocket. This mask mandate helps protect students, teachers, faculty, and staff—and all of their loved ones at home—and I and the City will continue to stand by our actions, which were made to protect our children and our vulnerable friends, families, and neighbors.

“Kansas City’s indoor mask mandate will exist through at least September 23. Many surrounding jurisdictions have implemented their own indoor mask mandates. I applaud all leaders who continue to prioritize the health of our public. Kansas City will continue to do so.”

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