Texas school districts in Central Texas sued by Ken Paxton over mask mandates

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FILE – In this file photo, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks during a hearing in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

WACO, Texas – The La Vega, Midway, Waco and McGregor school districts are facing a lawsuit from the Texas Attorney General over face mask mandates – but one school says they are not at fault.

Midway ISD released a statement saying they do not have a mask mandate. Midway’s River Valley Intermediate did put in a place a two-week mask mandate, but it was only temporary.

Midway Director of Communications Traci Marlin said in a statement:

Midway ISD still does not have a mask mandate. We have respected the governor’s orders while implementing thoughtful, measured and temporary responses to clusters of COVID cases. At this point, we are aware of discussion of a lawsuit, but we have not been directly notified or served. Our only correspondence with the AG’s office has been notification of a non-compliance list and to dispute being added to the non-compliance list. We have not received information of why or how we are considered out of compliance or considered for a lawsuit. All information thus far has been obtained only via media or social media.

One week into the new school year, COVID cases began to rise at Waco ISD schools – so the district put a mask mandate in place.

Now this decision has them – along with La Vega, Midway and McGregor – facing a lawsuit from Attorney General Ken Paxton. The lawsuit claims the schools deliberately violated governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order #38 – which encourages mask wearing, but bans mask mandates.

The Attorney General’s Office says they sent a letter to each of the schools demanding they revoke the masking policy – or legal action will be taken.

Midway ISD and McGregor ISD say they have yet to be notified or served with the lawsuit.

McGregor Superintendent James Lenamon said in a statement:

“McGregor ISD has learned through the media that Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed suit against the district related to our COVID-19 mitigation plan. We have not yet been served and have not seen the lawsuit, but we are currently conferring with counsel and the health department about appropriate next steps. It is worth noting that the AG has previously requested that the district rescind the portion of it’s plan that required face covering in Stage 2 or, alternatively, that the district not enforce the requirement pending the Texas Supreme Courts disposition of other mask cases. While the district achieved 90% compliance, it did not enforce the requirement, as demonstrated by the fact that no student, employees, or members of the community have been excluded or punished for non- compliance. So, the district is disappointed that the AG has decided to sue anyway. In any event, the district has seen a positive impact from it’s mitigation plan, with the positivity rate dropping from 3.39% district wide to 0.6% after entering Stage 2 on September 3, thus averting Stage 3, which involves campus closures.”

Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon said in a statement:

“As I’ve said before, I’m not interested in politics. I’m focused on taking care of kids. If and when Waco ISD is actually served in this lawsuit, we will review it and respond accordingly. In the meantime, two things are clear. Courts across the state are deeply divided over whether the mask provisions of the governor’s executive order have the force of law. More importantly, since requiring masks in all Waco ISD buildings, the number of students and employees reporting that they have tested positive for COVID-19 has decreased significantly.”

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