‘He said he’d take us to court but we took him first,’ RGV school districts join lawsuit against Abbott over mask mandate

Local News

HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — On Thursday, more Rio Grande Valley school districts said they would be taking legal action against Gov. Greg Abbott in order to enforce masks in their schools for the upcoming school year.

“We know that these masks work,’ said Hidalgo ISD superintendent, Xavier Salinas.

Thursday morning Salinas said the school board passed the resolution, suing the governor.

“We will file a petition against the governor and get a TRO to allow our local board and myself superintendent to make that decision for the health and safety of our kids and our parents,” said Salinas.

A TRO, Temporary Restraining Order, allows the school districts to enforce their mask mandate, which defies executive order GA-38, which states no local entities can enforce masks.

Salinas mentioned that five children died Thursday in Hidalgo County. The dark reality of COVID-19, and what he said is even more of a reason to mask up.

Thursday night Edcouch-Elsa ISD board members also voted to join that lawsuit asking for a restraining order against Abbott.

“We know that one life lost to COVID is one too many,” said Dr. Greg Rodriguez, superintendent of Edcouch-Elsa ISD. “We believe that we have the legal grounds to defend ourselves should it get to that point.”

Edinburg CISD and Brownsville ISD have also joined

“The resolution that we passed today authorizes our law enforcement to escort individuals who refuse to comply with the mask mandate off campus,” said Dr. Mario Salinas, the superintendent of Edinburg CISD.

The O’hanlon, Demerath, & Castillo law firm said they are representing all the school districts, and say the governor has no grounds to submit an executive order preventing local entities to enforce masks.

“He said he’d take us to court but we took him first,” said Ben Castillo, an attorney at O’hanlon, Demerath, & Castillo. “You know our position is that the governor doesn’t have the legal standing to issue an executive order like that.”

Castillo also says that Abbott is contradicting himself.

“So, [Abbott is] using the disaster declaration to say that there’s no disaster?” said Castillo.

Hidalgo ISD said that students who have COVID-19 are given 20 days a year for virtual learning days, funded by the Texas Association of Educators, and kids with underlying health issues need a medical note from a doctor allowing them to stay home.

Attorney Castillo said they have not yet heard from the governor’s office.

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