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Parents sue Sisolak, CCSD over mask order in schools

Updated August 12, 2021 - 4:53 pm

Parents of two students at Clark County schools have filed a class action lawsuit against Gov. Steve Sisolak and the school district alleging that ordering students to wear masks violates their constitutional rights.

“It has become exceedingly clear that” Sisolak, the Clark County School District, Attorney General Aaron Ford and other state officials “have engaged in gross negligence, bad faith and willful misconduct by issuing Orders and Emergency Directives that are arbitrary and capricious, and unsubstantiated by concrete empirical evidence,” the suit stated.

The mask order set in place late last month for all students and employees forced parents “to bear a public burden by entirely eviscerating Plaintiffs’ ability to send their children to school freely and unhindered by arbitrary directives in violation of their constitutional rights,” the complaint continued.

The parents named in the lawsuit were Monica Branch Noto, identified as the legal guardian of an unnamed student at Vanderburg Elementary School, and Tiffany Paulson, identified as the legal guardian of an unnamed student at Coronado High School.

The complaint was filed Thursday by Reno attorney Joseph Gilbert, who has announced a Republican bid for governor in 2022, and Las Vegas attorney Sigal Chattah, who announced this year that she would run as a Republican for Nevada attorney general next year.

In announcing the mask mandate, officials with the district — the nation’s fifth-largest public school system with more than 300,000 students — cited “current high transmission rates of COVID-19” and in alignment with recommendations from local and national health authorities.

On Thursday, the state recorded 1,221 new coronavirus cases and 24 deaths from the previous day, bringing the total number of reported COVID-19 related fatalities to 6,120 in Nevada.

The lawsuit cites low fatality rates for those younger than 18, calling the mask order “overboard and unconstitutional.”

Parents “will be fearful of exercising their right to have their children attend school without suffering retribution for exercising constitutionally protected rights,” according to the complaint.

“These policies, as well-intentioned as they may be, have had an unlawful and disparate effect on some people, their health, mental well-being and their civil rights, to the point where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been ripped away from law-abiding citizens and their children.”

Officials with the governor’s office, the attorney general’s office and the school district declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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