(The Center Square) – Weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order prohibiting local governments, including school districts, from implementing mask mandates, several county judges sued and defied the order, as well as some city councils and school districts. The Texas Supreme Court issued a temporary stay siding with the governor, yet lower district judges ruled that local officials could implement the mandates.
After the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling, Abbott said, “Under Executive Order GA-38, no governmental entity can require or mandate the wearing of masks. The path forward relies on personal responsibility – not government mandates. The State of Texas will continue to vigorously fight the temporary restraining order to protect the rights and freedoms of all Texans.”
As the lawsuits wind through the courts, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office continues to defend the executive order. He said in a statement that the order “is crystal clear, and the Texas Supreme Court agrees: No governmental entity – which includes counties, cities, and school districts – may require mandating the COVID-19 shot, the showing of vaccine passports, COVID-19 related limitations, or mask mandates. NO GOVERNMENT IN TEXAS MAY IMPOSE A MASK MANDATE. Yet too many local officials continue to violate this law. I will sue every single local entity and local official who does. And if they continue to disobey, I will pursue additional legal sanctions.”
Paxton’s office posted a list of school districts that “have unlawfully impose mask mandates,” and differentiates between those who are now in compliance versus those that aren’t.
School districts currently in noncompliance that received a letter from the AG’s office to comply include: Aldine ISD, Austin ISD, Brownsville ISD, Cameron County, Canutillo ISD, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, Crowley ISD, Del Valle ISD, DeSoto ISD, Donna ISD, Eagle Pass ISD, Edcouch-Elsa ISD, Edgewood ISD, Edinburg CISD, El Paso (City), El Paso ISD, Elgin ISD, Fort Sam Houston ISD, Galena Park ISD, Galveston ISD, Hays County, Hidalgo County, Hidalgo ISD, Houston ISD, Huffman ISD, La Joya ISD, Lackland ISD, Laredo ISD, Lasara ISD, Leander ISD, Manor ISD, McAllen ISD, Mesquite ISD, Northside ISD, Paris ISD, Pflugerville ISD, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Richardson ISD, Round Rock ISD, San Antonio ISD, San Benito ISD, San Marcos ISD, Socorro ISD, Spring ISD, Texas City ISD, United ISD, Weslaco ISD, and West Oso ISD.
School districts previously in noncompliance that are now compliant include Cedar Hill ISD, Coppell ISD, Dripping Springs ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Fort Worth ISD, Grand Prairie ISD, Judson ISD, Killeen ISD and Nueces County.
Others on the list include some of the districts that are involved in lawsuits and those that don’t fall into either of the two categories, including: Basis Texas, Bexar County, Dallas County, Dallas ISD, Eanes ISD, Harris County, Harlandale ISD, Highland Park ISD, IDEA Public Schools, North East ISD, Randolph Fields ISD, Sheldon ISD, Travis County, and Vanguard Academy.
Democrats continue to advocate for school districts to not follow the mandate. State Sen. Jose Menéndez, D-San Antonio, launched a legal defense fund to help school districts pay fines when they defy Abbott’s executive order. The order includes a $1,000 fine for noncompliance. Bexar County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez pledged $10,000.
Former Democratic state senator Wendy Davis asked people to donate to a bail fund, organized by Ground Game Texas and Safe Schools for All. The site says its goal is to raise “at least $100,000 to protect at least 100 school districts that stand up to Abbott. It is Abbott’s emergency order GA-38 that threatens $1,000 fines and prevents many school districts from implementing universal masking policies ….”