Gov. Reynolds: appeal coming to ‘defend the rights’ of parents after mask mandate ban block

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds removes her face mask before signing an executive order granting...
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds removes her face mask before signing an executive order granting convicted felons the right to vote during a signing ceremony, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa.(Charlie Neibergall | AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 4:32 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a statement on Monday afternoon, decrying a federal judge’s ruling that temporarily prohibited enforcement of a law that bans school districts from instituting mask mandates to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Reynolds said that ruling, which was issued by a federal judge in the Southern District of Iowa, took away freedom of choice from the state’s parents over their children. The lawsuit had been brought by the Arc of Iowa and 11 families of disabled children in the state.

“Today, a federal judge unilaterally overturned a state law, ignored the decision by our elected legislature and took away parents’ ability to decide what’s best for their child. We will appeal and exercise every legal option we have to uphold state law and defend the rights and liberties afforded to any American citizen protected by our constitution,” Reynolds said, in the statement.

The ruling by Judge Robert Pratt in the federal court for the Southern District of Iowa said that the law likely conflicts with the Americans with Disabilities Act, because “it excludes disabled children from participating in and denies them the benefits of public schools’ programs, services, and activities to which they are entitled.” Pratt said that disabled students face a “very real threat to their lives” if they were to attend schools with no mask mandates, which prevents them from having a similar educational experience as their peers.

Pratt said that the public interest in enforcing provisions of the federal ADA law overrode the state’s interest in enforcing the mask mandate ban.

“The Court recognizes issuing a [temporary restraining order] is an extreme remedy, however, if the drastic increase in the number of pediatric COVID-19 cases since the start of the school year in Iowa is any indication of what is to come, such an extreme remedy is necessary to ensure that the children involved in this case are not irreparably harmed,” Pratt wrote, in the ruling.

A state judge denied a request to block the law in a separate lawsuit last week, saying there was no evidence that any school board would immediately impose a mask mandate if the law wasn’t in effect.

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