The Arizona Education Association and a coalition of education organizations and supporters filed a lawsuit against the state over the constitutionality of the ban on K-12 mask mandates on Thursday.
The Arizona Education Association, the largest professional association for public school employees in Arizona, argues the provisions included in the K-12 budget bill, prohibiting school districts from requiring masks and the COVID-19 vaccine for students and staff are unconstitutional, as they are unrelated to the budget.
According to the lawsuit filed by AEA, the law violates the single subject and title requirements for legislation and equal protection grounds as set forth in the Arizona Constitution,
“Governor Ducey and the GOP legislative leadership are putting our children in harm’s way and our communities at risk,” says AEA President Joe Thomas. “Their actions are reckless and abusive. By tying the hands of our local school board leaders, lawmakers are preventing them from making decisions to keep our students safe.”
Several school districts across Arizona, including Tucson Unified School District, opted to require masks in schools in opposition to the Governor. As of Tuesday, TUSD Board member Adelita Grijalva said the district had yet to receive a letter from the Governor’s office, but expected it to arrive after the legislation technically comes into effect on Sept. 29, 90 days after the session adjourns.
“We know the majority of parents and our educators support our school leaders doing everything they can to keep our students and staff safe and healthy,” says Thomas. “We’re seeing more and more school districts taking steps to protect their students and communities. But they shouldn’t have to break the law to implement common sense protections for our students. We urge lawmakers to listen to their constituents and make the right decision to ensure our classrooms and campuses are safe so we can keep our students learning in our classrooms.”
Ducey spokesman C.J. Karamargin said, “We’re confident the legislation we signed is completely constitutional.”