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Education Advocates Launch Lawsuit Against Arizona's Mask Mandate Ban

Education advocates have filed a lawsuit against legislation that prohibits mask mandates in Arizona’s K-12 public schools, colleges and universities. 

In the complaint, the Arizona Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, and other plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of the ban. The legislation was included in the state budget. 

“This is a violation of the constitution because the provisions that we are challenging in these particular bills were not properly and legally noticed in the title of bills which is what’s required by the single-subject rule in the constitution," said Attorney Roopali Desai, who's representing the group. 

The suit also argues that the law differentiates between public and private schools. 

Challenging this legislation right now is important given the rise of COVID-19 cases and the new delta variant, Desai said. 

Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the Arizona School Boards Association, Maricopa County Board Supervisor and Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board Member Steve Gallardo, state Sen. and Phoenix Union governing board President Lela Alston, and Save Our Schools Arizona Executive Director Beth Lewis. 

“I am proud to be a plaintiff in this matter," Lewis said in a statement to KJZZ. "As a parent and teacher, standing up for child health and safety is my most important role. When the Legislature decided to cram mask mandate prohibitions and other pet laws into budget bills, they showed a craven disregard for public health and the legislative process. We are counting on the courts to right this wrong.”

Rocio Hernandez was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2022.