Parents file lawsuit against 145 school districts over COVID-19 policies

Target 3

MACOUPIN CO., Ill. (WCIA)– A long list of parents filed a lawsuit against 145 school districts in Illinois Wednesday.

Their argument, in a nutshell, is if a school is going to order masks or remove a kid from school for not following COVID-19 policies, the district needs to get parental consent or a court order.

The outcome of the lawsuit will impact school districts across the state, including in Central Illinois.

The case is a culmination of several others filed statewide by Attorney Tom DeVore. One of the cases DeVore is representing parents in actually sparked this newest lawsuit and the largest complaint filed yet.

That happened in Bond County. The judge filed a temporary restraining order against Bond County Community Unit School District No. 2 in September. It prohibited schools from requiring the plaintiffs’ kids to wear a mask unless there was consent or a court order.

The school district appealed, and the Fifth District Appellate Court said the restraining order had to be vacated because the lawsuit didn’t name Governor J.B. Pritzer, the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Public Health as defendants, in addition to the school district. The judge argued those state offices would all be affected by the outcome of the case.

DeVore is behind that and almost ten other similar cases. It made sense to consolidate all of them, he said, except for two lawsuits outside of Central Illinois.

The latest lawsuit was filed in Macoupin County. This time, parents sued the school districts, IDPH, ISBE and Gov. Pritzker.

At least ten of the districts are in WCIA 3’s viewing area in Central Illinois.

Here’s the full list from Central Illinois:

  • Mattoon Community Unit School District 2
  • Mount Pulaski Communit UnitSchool District 23
  • Mount Zion Community Unit School District 3
  • Ball-Chatham Community Unit School District 5
  • Gifford Community Consolidated School District 188
  • Dieterich Community Unit School District 30
  • Jacksonville Community Unit School District 117
  • Mahomet-Seymour Community Unit School District 3
  • Teutopolis Community Unit School District 50
  • Central A&M Community Unit District 21

Read the full complaint below:

So why file in Macoupin County?

In September, a judge there ordered a preliminary injunction in a case that has not gone to trial yet. In part, the order said the students named in the case can’t be excluded from in-person learning without consent or a quarantine order from the health department.

DeVore told WCIA 3 Thursday that the case had nothing to do with why he filed in the county. He said it was decided in a discussion he had with a member of the attorney general’s team. Location may have been the reasoning, DeVore added, but he said he can’t remember who suggested Macoupin County.

DeVore was in the process of writing a temporary restraining order in the latest lawsuit Thursday afternoon. That hearing is set for Nov. 5.

Part of the parents’ lawsuit argues that only local health departments have the authority to issue mask and quarantine orders under state statute.

However, the state health dept. says it does have that power under the Department of Public Health Act. In part, the law says it “…has general supervision of the interests of the health, and lives of the people of the state. It has supreme authority in matters of quarantine and isolation…”

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