Little Rock School Superintendent Suggests Lawsuit Over Mask Mandate Ban
Little Rock School Board members are being asked to consider filing a lawsuit against the state regarding a ban on mask mandates. Superintendent Michael Poore made the request in a video released Friday. He said Act 1002, which took effect Wednesday, is unconstitutional. It prohibits state and local government entities, including schools, from enforcing mask mandates.
While Gov. Asa Hutchinson has called for a special session of the Arkansas General Assembly to consider modifying or lifting the ban, Poore said he isn't confident lawmakers will make the right decision.
“My hope is that the state legislature will take the appropriate action to repeal 1002 and allow school districts to formulate their own policy related to masks," Poore said. "I’m not confident that that will occur. This lawsuit allows us a place in order to take this situation to the judicial branch to act on 1002.”
Poore said Hutchinson has done a great job trying to navigate through receiving information from physicians and stakeholders, but there should be local control by districts to decide whether to require masks to protect children and families.
“We need every single tool that we can have within our school district to protect children and families," Poore said. "Mask mandates are in place within the hospital community. They’re even being put in place in the federal court system. So, this is a commonsense approach, and in my mind, local control should dictate mask compliance.”
Poore referred to this as an emotional issue because the state should be doing more to protect children. He estimated that a little over 70% of the district’s staff has received a vaccine, and about 10% of students who are 12 and older have been vaccinated.
Poore said a survey conducted by the district indicated a majority of parents were going to have their children wear masks. About 4,000 people responded to the survey, he said.
Poore is asking the Little Rock Board of Education to review a draft document and hold a meeting next Wednesday to consider filing a lawsuit. He said masks along with the other daily precautions the district implemented last year can help create a safe learning environment for the students and teachers.