Missouri attorney general asks court to immediately stop school districts' mask mandates

Two bills in the Missouri legislature will require the Attorney General to pay legal expenses incurred by school districts if they win in court.

Updated: January 31, 2022 - 11:21pm

Missouri Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed motions for temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions against three of the 45 school districts he filed lawsuits against last week for mask requirements.

Each motion requests the following courts to stop mask mandates in the following schools:

St. Charles R-VI School District in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court in St. Charles County;Ferguson-Florissant School District in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis County;Columbia Public Schools in the 13th Judicial Circuit Court in Boone County.

“As I’ve said before, mask mandates are ineffective and illegal, and lead to real, negative, and lasting psychological impacts on children and teens,” Schmitt, a candidate for the seat of retiring Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, said in a statement. “Our fight against mask mandates in Missouri continues, and we will not stop until the power to make health decisions for children is pried from the hands of bureaucrats and placed back into the hands of parents. These motions for temporary restraining orders are just the first of many as school districts continue to run afoul of the law and enforce illegal mask mandates.”

The media release announcing the motions stated there would be “more on the way.”

Leaders of public school district collaboratives on both sides of the state believe state law requires school boards to prohibit children with contagious diseases from attending school. Another allows school boards to adopt rules and regulations.

Each of the three motions exceeds 20 pages. The motions for Ferguson-Florissant and Columbia conclude with a request the judge order the districts to stop enforcing a mask mandate and to instruct the district to “post a sign on its website and on its building noting that enforcement of the mask mandate has been enjoined.”

The motion for the St. Charles School District requests the same actions with an alternative to inform “students and staff in grades 9-12 noting that enforcement of the mask mandate has been enjoined as to students and staff in grades 9-12.”

Two bills in the Missouri legislature will require the Attorney General to pay for the legal expenses incurred by school districts if they successfully defend themselves in court. SB992, sponsored by Sen. Doug Beck, D-St. Louis, will require the court to “award attorney’s fees, court costs, and all other expenses incurred by the political subdivision or school district in defense of any such action brought if the action is terminated in favor of the political subdivision or school district.” HB2569, sponsored by Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield and the House minority leader, is similar and also requires any payment of court costs to come from the Attorney General’s operating costs appropriated by the legislature and prohibits payment from any other fund.