The Journal Gazette
 
 
Saturday, September 18, 2021 1:00 am

NACS parents sue over mandate

Claim state, local health officials' rules 'arbitrary'

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette

Parents whose children attend schools in Northwest Allen County filed a lawsuit in Allen Superior Court alleging that state and local school officials are foisting “an endless state of emergency” on students, teachers and staff because of COVID-19 restrictions, and they want it to end.

“Students remain subject to arbitrary, irrational, and unscientific rules regarding face masks, contact tracing, and quarantines – measures that serve no legitimate government purpose at this stage beyond foisting an endless state of emergency on K-12 students, teachers, and staff,” said the suit, filed Monday.

Elsewhere in the U.S., life has gone back to normal, the lawsuit said.

The parents suing the state and other entities include Chris and Natalie Forbing, Mike Bell, Jacquelyn and Eric Christman and Andrew Frisinger. They represent their own 12 children.

The parents blamed a “complex web” of executive orders, Indiana Department of Health policies, local health department guidance and “school districts like NACS,” for excluding thousands of healthy students from school because “they may be asymptomatic carriers or may develop symptoms later.”

The lawsuit also said when healthy students are quarantined they “rarely develop a COVID-19 infection.”

Arguing that the mask mandate is illegal and unconstitutional along with contact tracing and quarantine, it said, “COVID-19 presents a statistically lower mortality risk to K-12 students than influenza, car accidents or drowning.”

Parents objected to the mask mandate reimposed at the NACS board meeting Aug. 30 and stated the board president was “blindsided” when the board, in a 3-2 majority, approved the measure.

Board President Kent Somers was not identified or named in the suit, but board members Ron Felger, Elizabeth Hathaway and Kristi Schlatter were, along with Carroll High School Assistant Principal Tanya Pickett and NACS Superintendent Chris Himsel.

The night of the board meeting, NACS reported 168 confirmed cases for the new school year compared with 377 during the last school year. The district has 8,000 students. 

Fort Wayne Community Schools was the sole public school district out of four in Allen County to begin the new school year with a mask requirement.

Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana Department of Health commissioner, and Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter are also named in the suit, along with Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The suit asks the court to declare that the governor and all other entities “have exceeded their authority” and that the current mask, contact tracing and quarantine policies violate Indiana law and the state's constitution. The parents also want the Department of Health's two-tier system that exempts students from quarantines if they present proof of vaccination declared a violation of Indiana's “Vaccine Passport Ban,” among other items.

The parents are also asking for the mask mandate and other measures to stop.

School officials had not responded to a phone call from The Journal Gazette by late Friday.

Kevin J. Mitchell with offices on Coldwater Road is representing the litigants.

jduffy@jg.net


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