CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – A lawsuit has been filed against the Charleston County School District over its face mask mandate for students and teachers.
The district’s board of trustees voted this week to begin enforcing mask requirements for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors beginning next Monday.
They say the enforcement “will be done without any funds appropriated or authorized by the General Assembly’s 2021-22 Appropriations Act, through October 15,” which will keep CCSD in compliance with State Budget Proviso 1.108.
The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of a group of CCSD parents and a teacher, seeks a court order declaring the defendants in contempt of the South Carolina Supreme Court’s recent ruling that sided with the state’s Proviso 1.108 banning the enforcement of masks in schools.
“The suit also attacks the ‘vaccine or quarantine’ policy which is preventing their children from obtaining their constitutional right to a minimally adequate education,” the lawsuit states.
One of the plaintiffs, a teacher who is facing termination from East Cooper Montessori Charter School, said “Teachers are supposed to teach. Medical decisions should be left to the parents and family.”
Another said, “We have allowed our civil liberties to be sacrificed for quite some time as they figured out what to do, but we felt we had to act when we saw the third year of our children’s education being ruined by rules and regulations based on uncertain information.”
Attorney Joshua Hooser is representing the plaintiffs. The district, its board of trustees, Charleston County, City of Charleston and East Cooper Montessori Charter School are named as defendants.
Hooser says the school district and it’s leaders are blatantly ignoring state law and says they need to be held accountable for defying the State Supreme Court ruling.
“There is no loophole,” says Hooser. “The law is the law and in South Carolina and the parents make the decisions over their children. State law controls and localities do not have the power to enforce or even announce these mask mandates on students or employees.”
The parents say the mask mandates are taking away from students ability to learn and fear the impacts could be significant.
“Some children are on their third or fourth quarantine and they’re not receiving education,” says Hooser.
Hooser says the parents are fighting the mask mandate now before it turns into vaccine requirements.
“Schools are using to strong arm these families into giving their children the vaccination,” says Hooser.
The group and parents are using the ruling Williams v City of Columbia while calling on help from Attorney General Alan Wilson.
“They care deeply for their constitutional rights to make decisions, especially important medical decisions for their children,” says Hooser.
Hooser says the battle to unmask kids in CCSD is just getting started.
“But make no mistake, thousands and thousands of parents are supporting this and are behind this,” says Hooser. “They will be peacefully protesting, we will not comply, we will not consent.”
CCSD announced Thursday students will be required to wear face coverings to attend in-person classes.
The requirement will be in place from September 20 through October 15 but may be extended if necessary.
News 2 has reached out to the Charleston County School District for comment.