Parents in Cabot suing school district over mask mandate

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LONOKE, Ark. – A group of Cabot parents are suing the school district over the implementation of a mask mandate. 

Thursday was a hearing for a temporary restraining order in Lonoke County court. 

Laura McNeil is one of the parents on the lawsuit and she withdrew her son from school when she heard about the mandate. 

She said last year being forced to wear masks made her son paranoid about this issue. 

“He thought that he had to wear a mask even outside in our backyard to jump on the trampoline and he thought if he didn’t but he was going to die,” she said. 

Superintendent of Cabot, Dr. Tony Thurman, said they are following guidelines and recommendations to keep kids in school. 

“Students need to be at school on-site and as long as the guidelines are as they say that we need kids there then we feel like face coverings are the best way to go,” he said. 

Attorney for the parents, Travis Story, argued the school board does not have the authority in statute to make these kinds of directives. He added when Judge Fox granted a temporary injunction against Act 1002 which prohibited mask mandates, it did not allow for districts to pass mandates. 

“It never granted them authority it does it mention schools or school board,” Story explained. 

The story also argued the mandate infringes on parents’ fundamental liberties to raise their children how they see fit. 

“He {Dr. Thurman} agreed that the mask mandate was more restrictive then something like getting vaccines. You can get a vaccine exemption easier than you can get a massive exemption,” Story said. 

Dr. Thurman said he values the parents being a voice and advocate for their children but he believes the district is not out of line. 

“Unfortunately in this situation we disagree on what direction we need to go into school district as I can and what we feel like as the best interest of all students,” Dr. Thurman said. 

McNeil said after the hearing she would tee roll her son immediately if a temporary restraining order is issued. 

Judge Barbara Elmore said she would issue a ruling on the matter Friday morning. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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