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School board, petitioners trade filings in lawsuit over mask mandate

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

Alachua County Public Schools filed its response to a petition for Writ of Mandamus from parents in Alachua and Duval Counties on Friday, October 8, and attorneys for the petitioners filed an amended petition today.

The school district’s response argued that the case should have been brought in Circuit Court, not in the First District Court of Appeal, and that the petitioners did not have standing to bring the petition because they had not claimed to live in any county within the jurisdiction of the First District or to be parents of children attending Alachua County or Duval County schools or to have been affected by the policies of the two school boards. The response also argued that the petitioners had failed to meet the elements required for a Writ of Mandamus; here they argued that parental rights are not absolute because school boards “may infringe on such rights where, as here, such action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest and that such action is narrowly tailored and is not otherwise served by a less restrictive means.” The response further argues that “The Alachua County School Board and Superintendent are following the law and guidance issued by the CDC.”

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The amended petition, filed this morning, clarifies that the petitioners are all residents of Alachua or Duval Counties, “and either have children in the public school or have removed their children from public school because of the School Boards’ masking and quarantine policies. All the Petitioners are subjects to the School Boards’ mask and quarantine policies and are being continuously harmed by the School Board’s failure to adhere to applicable law.”

The Court has ordered the school boards to file amended responses to the amended petition by October 13, and the petitioners may file a reply no later than October 14.

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