The Arc of Iowa v. Reynolds

State: Iowa

Filed: 2021

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.

Case Documents


Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction

Order Granting Temporary Restraining Order

Reply in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction

American Academy of Pediatrics Amicus Brief

Order Granting Extension of Temporary Restraining Order

Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Eighth Circuit Brief

Eighth Circuit American Academy of Pediatrics Amicus Brief

Eighth Circuit Opinion

Eighth Circuit Per Curiam Opinion

Order on Motions to Dismiss and Summary Judgment

Press Releases

Lawsuit Challenges Iowa Law Banning Schools from Requiring Masks

Federal Court Blocks Iowa’s Law Banning Masking Requirements in Schools

Mask Mandate Preliminary Injunction Continues to Protect Iowa Children

Federal Appeals Court Decision Ensures Iowa Schools Can Require Masking to Protect Students with Disabilities

Related Media

Associated Press: Parents of disabled kids sue over Iowa ban on mask mandates

Des Moines Register: Parents of students with disabilities sue over Iowa’s COVID mask mandate ban in schools

KCRG: Parents of students with disabilities, ACLU sue Iowa over mask mandate ban law

We Are Iowa: ‘Not an equal education’: Parents of kids with disabilities 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

WQAD8: Davenport Education Association praises federal judge’s order to allow Iowa schools to mandate masks

Des Moines Register: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds asks judge to reinstate mask mandate ban, citing concerns from parents

The Gazette: Documents: COVID outbreaks at nearly quarter of Iowa schools

Des Moines Register: Iowa school districts may continue mask mandates after judge grants preliminary injunction

NBC News: Federal judge blocks Iowa’s ban on school mask mandates

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

KETV Omaha: Federal judges hear Iowa’s appeal over injunction of law that bans school mask mandates

Courthouse News Service: Iowa asks appeals court to uphold ban on mask mandates in schools

Iowa Public Radio: State attorneys ask appeals court to restore Iowa’s ban on school mask mandates

Des Moines Register: Iowa will not enforce school mask mandate ban for now, Attorney General’s Office says

Iowa Capital Dispatch: Appeals court rules that some Iowa schools can impose mask mandates

Our Quad Cities: ACLU, others celebrate federal ruling on Iowa mask mandate in schools

Education Week: Relaxed Mask Guidelines Raise Anxiety for Parents of Children With Disabilities

ACLU Iowa: 8th Circuit Court Decision Allows Iowa Schools To Protect Students With Disabilities With Masking Under Federal Law

Des Moines Register: Iowa must permit school districts to require masks in some cases, court rules; Iowa to appeal

Associated Press: Federal court dismisses case against Iowa governor’s ban on school mask mandates