Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa
Plaintiffs: The Arc of Iowa and parents of students with disabilities
Defendant: Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa Department of Education, individual school districts
Counsel: The Arc, ACLU, ACLU of Iowa, Disability Rights Iowa, Arnold & Porter Law Firm, Tom Duff Law Firm
Overview: In the final days of the 2021 legislative session, the Iowa General Assembly passed HF 847, which prohibits school districts in Iowa from requiring everyone to wear masks in their schools. As the school year begins and COVID cases soar, school districts face a dilemma: whether to comply with HF 847 or whether to meet their obligations under federal disability rights laws by protecting the health, safety, and dignity of their students with disabilities and providing equal access to their education. Parents of children with disabilities that put them at risk of severe illness should they contract COVID also face a dilemma: whether to send their children to school at risk to their health and even lives or whether to keep them at home at the expense of their education and development. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act provide broad protections for individuals with disabilities. Both federal disability rights laws prohibit outright exclusion, denial of equal access, or unnecessary segregation of students with disabilities in public education.
Status: The court granted a temporary restraining order on September 13, 2021.
Associated Press: Parents of disabled kids sue over Iowa ban on mask mandates
Iowa Capital Dispatch: Lawsuit: Iowa’s school mask mandate ban violates disability rights
Business Insider: Iowa ban on mask mandates at schools overturned by federal judge
The Gazette: Documents: COVID outbreaks at nearly quarter of Iowa schools
ABC Action News: Families of children with disabilities challenge mask mandate bans
Des Moines Register: Federal court will decide the fate of mask mandates in Iowa schools
Courthouse News Service: Iowa asks appeals court to uphold ban on mask mandates in schools