The Journal Gazette
 
 
Tuesday, January 18, 2022 1:00 am

3 counts in suit against NACS gone

Judge allows others to proceed, including quarantine procedure

JIM CHAPMAN | The Journal Gazette

A judge has granted requests from Northwest Allen County Schools and local health officials to dismiss parts of a lawsuit filed by six NACS parents upset about coronavirus protocols, including mask mandates and quarantines.

The judge denied requests to dismiss other parts of the lawsuit filed Sept 13.

The parents – Chris and Natalie Forbing, Mike Bell, Jacquelyn and Eric Christman and Andrew Frisinger – sued NACS and Superintendent Chris Himsel, school board members Ron Felger, Elizabeth Hathaway and Kristi Schlatter and Carroll High School Assistant Principal Tanya Pickett; the Allen County Department of Health and county Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter; Gov. Eric Holcomb; and the Indiana Department of Health and state Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box.

The parents argued the defendants' actions during the pandemic have exceeded authority and violated state and federal law. In November, NACS and county health officials requested dismissal of the lawsuit against them in separate motions hours before the school board decided not to mandate masks after winter break. 

Last week, Allen Superior Court Judge David Avery granted requests from NACS and the local health department to dismiss three of the lawsuit's 10 counts. Avery denied their requests to dismiss six counts and part of one count.

The judge dismissed the following counts in the lawsuit against NACS and local health officials:

• Wearing a mask during class violated the Indiana Constitution.

• Students have a right to religious exemption from medical treatment, including wearing masks.

• NACS' policies created a two-tiered system favoring vaccinated students over unvaccinated students and violated students' rights to religious and/or medical exemptions.

The judge denied requests from NACS and local health officials who argued four counts didn't pertain to them. State officials are also named as defendants, but the parents argued all the defendants exceeded their authority.

The judge denied requests to dismiss these counts:

• NACS' quarantine policies were unlawful and lacked legal authority.

• Excluding students from in-person classes for 14 days if they have COVID-like symptoms violates the state constitution, and requiring students to provide proof of vaccination violates their privacy rights.

Another hearing in the case is set for Jan. 28.

jchapman@jg.net


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